Manhattan, NY – All 10 Merchant Marine players who saw action Friday night totaled at least two points and two rebounds in a 76-73 loss at the hands of Kenyon in the opening day of the NYU Holiday Classic. Senior Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) recorded 14 points and seven rebounds while classmate Zach Karczewski (Austin, TX) posted eight points and nine rebounds. Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, PA) also reached double figures with 11 points. USMMA outrebounded Kenyon, 49-32, but was unable to overcome the Lords shooting percentage of over 60 percent in the second half.
Kenyon (6-4) played an even first half with the Mariners as neither team was able to build a cushion larger than four points. The Lords relied on the offense of Ikenna Nwadibia, who totaled a game high 22 points and was 10-of-13 at the free throw line. Julian Paviln hit a trifecta just before halftime, as part of his 18 points, to send the two teams into the intermission locked at 31-31.
Merchant Marine (5-5) committed only two turnovers in second half but found themselves down six points after a Danny Collins (Sleepy Hollow, NY) layup and two free throws from David Smith (Lakewood, WA). Smith finished the night with eight points while Collins tallied six points and four rebounds in his first game back from injury.
However, the Lords would put together a string of hot shooting and led 64-50 with 8:07 remaining following a Brian Comey lay-in. USMMA closed the gap to 70-65 at the 1:21 mark on the strength of a Collins offensive rebound and tip-in. Merchant Marine continued its comeback and climbed within two points at 73-71 as Hunter Jones (Goodyear, AZ) drained a jumper with 44 seconds on the clock.
Jones had eight points on four-of-six shooting and it was the freshman who let go of the final shot with the Mariners trailing 76-73. After the two sides traded free throws, the Mariners inbounded the ball with just five seconds left. Jones let go of a three-pointer but the shot was off the mark and USMMA was unable to get off another attempt.
Merchant Marine returns to action tomorrow in the final day of the NYU Holiday Classic for a 5:00 pm tip-off against Clarkson.