SELINSGROVE, Pa. – An offensive rebound and putback by sophomore forward Harley Sellinger was the difference, as Susquehanna University defeated the United States Merchant Marine Academy 73-72 in overtime in Landmark Conference action.
In a game that featured eight lead changes and six ties, the Crusaders (7-5, 2-1 Landmark) and Mariners (6-8, 1-2 Landmark) were neck and neck for practically the entire contest before the dramatic finish. Susquehanna took the reins early, as they led the entire first half until a jumper from Mariners guard Jeffrey Mark that tied the score at 15-15 with 7:53 to play before halftime. Kings Point would then continue what would amount to a 19-6 spurt that saw the Mariners take a nine point advantage 30-21 on a layup from sophomore Zach Karczewski.
In the half's last 4:12 however, the Crusaders would hold the Mariners scoreless, going on a mini 6-0 run of their own that culminated in a Spenser Spencer running floater as time expired, sending both teams into the locker room with a slim 30-27 USMMA advantage. Kings Point's bench was the story of the first half with 12 points, including two three-pointers from junior forward Bryan Lynch. Reed Buck was the lone player in double-figures for either team with 10 points, however on just 4-12 shooting.
Coming out of the locker room, it looked like USMMA would take control with five quick points coming from Buck and a three-point play from Karczewski. Back-to-back layups inside by forward Denver Effland pushed the lead up to eight, and a Karczewski steal and dish to senior Kevin Kerr gave the Mariners their largest lead of the game at 41-31 with 16:55 left.
Susquehanna would respond over the next several minutes, with five points from Spencer and a deep trifecta from junior J.T. Wilson to cut the Mariners lead to just 46-42. Kerr would respond with a layup to push the lead back up to six, before the Crusaders responded with another 6-0 run to tie the game at 48-48. Bryan Lynch would then knock down his third triple of the evening to give USMMA the lead once again, but that would be the last time the Mariners would be ahead for the next several minutes.
Aided by Denver Effland's fourth foul, the Crusaders would try to pound the Mariners inside, putting the ball in the hands of sophomore forward Harley Sellinger. He would respond with five points and three rebounds in the next seven minutes, as Sellinger's layup with exactly 4:00 in regulation would put Susquehanna up five.
A triple and a layup both by sophomore Michael Farace tied the game at 59-59 with 3:12 to go, before a layup by Susquehanna's Brendan Rezny put the Crusaders back up two. Kerr would then knock down the game's biggest shot up to that point, a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Mariners a 62-61 advantage with 2:13 in regulation. A hard foul by Karczewski would send Sellinger to the charity stripe, where he made one of two to tie the game at 62-62. Great defense from Farace would force the Crusaders into a shot-clock violation with four seconds left in regulation, giving Kings Point a chance to win it before an extra period. However, a corner three-pointer from Effland would go long, setting up the extra frame.
Susquehanna would take a quick five point lead on a Sellinger layup and Spencer's third triple of the night. The Mariners would storm right back, scoring the game's next seven points on a Buck three-pointer, two free-throws from Effland, and a Karczewski finish. Down two with under a minute to go, Spencer would strike again for yet another trifecta to go up 70-69. After a Karczewski miss, Harley Sellinger went to the line for two critical free-throws. He would make the first, but miss the second, leaving the door open for the Mariners. In the ensuing transition, Reed Buck scampered open, and knocked down the huge three, putting Kings Point back up 72-71 with only 15 seconds remaining. After a Frank Marcinek timeout, Susquehanna put the ball into the hands of their leading scorer Spencer. USMMA was able to force an initial miss, but Sellinger was there for the putback with 2.4 seconds to play, giving the Crusaders a 73-72 advantage. After a Danny Nee timeout, the Mariners were unable to complete a full-court pass on the last second attempt, resulting in the narrow Susquehanna victory.
Reed Buck once again led the Mariners with 20 points on 8-21 shooting, and eight rebounds. Kevin Kerr added 11 points on 4-8 shooting and three other Mariners, Denver Effland, Zach Karczewski and Bryan Lynch had nine apiece. Michael Farace had another solid game with seven points and a team-high six assists. Susquehanna's Spenser Spencer had a game-high 22 points on 8-19 shooting, and Harley Sellinger chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds.
USMMA returns to the hardwood on Friday evening, as they take on Moravian College in a Landmark Conference contest. Game-time from Bethlehem, Pa is 5:30pm.