KINGS POINT, N.Y. – With a 33-21 first half lead, Catholic University held on for the 59-55 victory over the United States Merchant Marine Academy despite a second half comeback in which the mariners outscored the Cardinals 34-26. The Cardinals improved to 4-2 in Landmark Conference play and 14-3 overall, while the Mariners fall to 1-5, and 6-11 overall, dropping their sixth straight contest.
The first half of play saw only one tie and no lead changes as the Cardinals took control of the game. With 11:14 left in the half and the Mariners trailing 14-12, the Cardinals began to pull away with a 7-0 run highlighted by junior Nate Koenig who knocked down two free throws and a three-pointer. After a three-pointer by the Mariners' Denver Effland interrupted Catholic's tear, the Cardinals pulled away again for 13 unanswered points. At the end of the half, the Mariners trailed the Cardinals 33-21.
The Mariners started to turn things around in the second half shooting over 40% and going 5-8 from the free-throw line. After an 11-2 run, the Mariners had pulled within five of the Cardinals, trailing 49-44, with 7:55 left to play. Cardinals freshman Steve Limberio brought the Catholic lead back up to eight with a three-pointer at the 6:03 mark, but Mariners Sophomore Reed Buck answered back with a quick three of his own. The Mariners continued to chip away at the Cardinals lead, never allowing Catholic to go up by more than seven for the remainder of the game.
With 1:51 left to play, Mariners sophomore Nick Sergio put up a jumper to pull within four of the Cardinals, then followed with another jumper less than a minute later. Down by three with under a minute to play, Mariners Denver Effland knocked down a free throw shot, cutting the Cardinal lead to two. With eight seconds left on the clock, Mariner Reed Buck fouled Cardinal Nate Koenig, who came to the line for two shots. Koenig hit both shots and the Mariners regained possession. Mariners senior Kevin Kerr put up a shot for three but missed as time expired, bringing the final score to 59-55 in favor of the Cardinals.
Reed Buck led the Mariners with 17 points on 6-16 shooting and 2-7 from three-point range. Sophomore Nick Sergio added 10 points and 8 rebounds with 3 blocks on the night.
For the Cardinals, three players finished with double digits in scoring. Junior Chris Kearney led the team with 13, followed by Nate Koenig with 12, and Steve Limberiou with 11. The Mariners out-shot the Cardinals from the floor 38.2% to 34.6% but the Cardinals were more dominant from the free-throw line, shooting for 59.3% to the Mariners 50%.
Next up for the United States Merchant Marine Academy will be another Landmark Conference matchup at home against the Goucher Gophers on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m