Second Half Drought Spoils USMMA's Land of Magic Classic Opener Versus Embry-Riddle
Daytona Beach, FL – The USMMA men's basketball team could not hold on to a seven point halftime lead as Reed Buck (Lawrenceville, GA) poured in 31 points for Merchant Marine in an 81-65 setback in their first game at the Land of Magic Classic. The tournament host Eagles knocked in 11 three-pointers and outscored the Mariners 45-22 in the second period en route to their tenth straight victory. The loss snaps USMMA's three game winning streak. Embry-Riddle entered the contest as the fourth ranked team in NAIA's Division II.
Merchant Marine (6-4) only had Buck reach double figures in scoring while Andrew Williams (Lantana, TX) paced the team on the glass with ten rebounds. USMMA fought out of an early hole and took its first lead on a Buck jump shot with an assist from Preston Padgett (Leavenworth, KS). Frankie Wiseley (Emmaus, PA) dished out a team high five assists. Merchant Marine closed the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 43-36 advantage into the intermission.
Embry-Riddle (12-1) had two players eclipse 20 points as Daniel Mondragon and DeForest Carter added 24 and 20 points, respectively. Mondragon gave Embry-Riddle its first lead of the second half with a trey to make it 67-64 with 6:33 remaining in regulation. The Mariners were held without a field goal for the last 13:08 as the Eagles offense surged to the final buzzer with an 81-65 victory.
USMMA returns to the court tomorrow night for an 8:00 contest against Elmira that will be the final game of the Land of Magic Classic.