Home sweet home

Morgan Shriver had an idea on how to shake her team’s early season home woes.

She wanted her team to believe it was somewhere else.

“We joked a little beforehand that since this was break maybe we can treat this as an away game since we didn’t have the crowd here,” Shriver said.

The first-year Heidelberg coach had some help from Mother Nature, and the fact that it’s winter break for HU students. With a sparse crowd looking on during a perpetual squall outside, the Student Princes rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to win its first home game, 78-69 over Marietta.

HU came in 0-2 at Seiberling Gymnasium.

The win was paced by a Kathleen Phillips surge in the second half. Heidelberg’s best offensive player, the senior was held to just two points before the break, but erupted for 22 in the second, keying a late run that allowed HU to overtake the Pioneers.

“I just picked up my defense, that’s really key to my offense,” Phillips said. “My defense in the first half was just horrible. I knew I had to pick it up.”

Phillips finished with six steals. Shriver said Phillips got off track in the first half.

“Marietta didn’t stop her the first half, Kathleen stopped Kathleen,” Shriver said. “She was settling for some outside shots and forcing some up. But in the second half we talked to her, she settled down and got some shots within our offense.”

It was something Heidelberg needed. Marietta led 34-30 at the break, then extended its lead to 48-35 when Tori Dixon drained a 3 at the 16:57 mark.

HU rallied behind Phillips and Hawkins (16 points) and got within 57-55 when Phillips connected on a 3 with 6:47 left. Marietta got the lead back up to 62-57 on another 3 by Dixon, but HU came right back. Nicole Payne buried a 3 from the left side, then Karli Patrick beat the Pioneer defense for a tying layup with 4:29 left.

Payne finished with seven points and three steals, and was singled out by her coach afterward.

“I’d say Nicole Payne had the best game she’s ever played,” Shriver said. “She hit some shots and had some big stops down the stretch.”

After tying the game, Phillips, and Heidelberg in general, really took over.

With the game knotted at 64, Phillips shook a Marietta defender and lofted a turnaround jumper.

It was the prettiest shot of the day. Heidelberg led by two with 2:18 left.

“I knew how they were gonna play me; they always play me to my right. That’s my strong point,” Phillips said. “I knew that I had to get (Marietta’s Candice Alexander) off me, because she’s a great defender. So I knew I had to pull some move on her to get open.”

Then HU’s Paige Ricketts stole the ball and pushed it ahead to Hawkins, who was fouled. Two free throws later, Heidelberg led 68-64.

“That’s what coach has been preaching all year,” Hawkins said. “Get your defense going and your offense will come, and that’s exactly what happened.”

After a Marietta free throw, Jackie Abrecht cruised in for a layup, and the Student Princes led by five with 1:19 left. A layup by Hawkins after a stop essentially clinched it.

Marietta, coached by former Heidelberg assistant Stacia Shrider, lost despite 21 points and eight rebounds from Heather Booth, and 13 points and six boards from Candice Alexander.

Heidelberg improved to 7-2, 2-2 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. It already has surpassed its win total from a season ago, and has matched its conference victory total from last season.

The Pioneers slipped to 6-2, 1-2 in the OAC.