Kings Point, NY – The USMMA men's basketball team celebrated its graduating players Saturday afternoon before a 70-57 victory against Landmark Conference rival Juniata. Reed Buck (Lawrenceville, GA), who was also presented with a commemorative ball for scoring 1,000 career points in the pre-game ceremony, poured in a game high 23 points. The Mariners shot 50 percent from the floor in the win and were a sensational 19-of-23 (82.6%) from the charity stripe, including 16-of-17 in the second half.
Senior Josh Beck (Martinsville, NJ) notched the first Merchant Marine (12-11, 5-7 Landmark) basket of the game, sending a charge into the home fans. Buck followed up the bucket with seven straight points to give USMMA a 9-3 advantage at the 12:32 mark. Andrew Williams (Lantana, TX) twice gave the Mariners a seven point lead with a bucket in the lane as the freshman finished the afternoon 6-of-7 from the field for 12 points to go along with six rebounds.
Another senior, Frankie Wiseley (Emmaus, PA) gave USMMA its largest cushion of the first half by knocking down a 15-footer to make it 26-15 late in the half. Wiseley finished the game with five points and five assists while Beck ended his "senior day" outing with five points and two rebounds.
Juniata (15-8, 7-5 Landmark) closed the first period with an 11-1 run to narrow the Mariners' lead to just 27-26 heading into halftime. For the game, the Eagles were led by the 14 points of Brian Scholly and got seven rebounds from Nate Higgins. The USMMA defense limited the Eagles to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor.
Beck again provided a spark to start the second half as he grabbed an offensive rebound and finished an old-school three-point play to make it a 30-26 affair. The Mariners went on to rattle off seven straight points with the final two coming on Zach Karczewski's (Austin, TX) to open up an 11-point edge, 46-35. USMMA continued to pull away and held at least a ten point advantage for the final 10:50 of regulation.
Merchant Marine posted a 40-31 rebounding edge over the Eagles and improved on their conference leading block total, rejecting seven shots. Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, PA) racked up a game high eight rebounds to go along with six points.
The easiest road to the Landmark Conference playoffs for the Mariners is to win their final two games (vs. Drew, at Susquehanna) and have Moravian lose their final two games (vs. Scranton, at Catholic). Merchant Marine returns to the court Wednesday night for their final home of the season against Drew at 7:00 pm inside O'Hara Hall.