Kings Point, NY - The USMMA men's basketball team got the help it needed Saturday afternoon, securing the fourth-seed in the 2014 Landmark Conference Tournament after an 87-77 setback at the hands of Susquehanna Saturday afternoon. Zach Karczewski (Austin, TX) totaled a game high 20 points as well as 10 rebounds as he and fellow senior Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) were honored before the game. The Mariners will square off with regular season champion Scranton Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the Landmark Conference semifinals.
Merchant Marine (12-13, 6-8 Landmark) engineered a 9-0 run early in the first half to grab a 17-13 advantage. The surge was started by a trifecta from Karczewski as USMMA was 11-of-28 (39.3%) from beyond the arc. Preston Padgett (Leavenworth, KS) knocked down four treys for his 12 points while David Smith (Lakewood, WA) added 12 points, including three triples.
Susquehanna (16-9, 8-6 Landmark) earned the second-seed in the Landmark Conference Tournament as the Crusaders built a 37-25 cushion in the opening period on the strength of a 24-8 run. Steven Weidlich paced the visitors with 29 points and Harley Sellinger grabbed 12 rebounds as well as notched his 1,000 career point. The Crusaders took a seven-point edge into the halftime intermission and Brandon Hedley made a three-ball to make it a 10-point game on the first possession of the second half.
Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, PA) drained a three-pointer to bring USMMA back to within single digits at 71-63 with 5:20 remaining in regulation. The sophomore finished with 12 points in 18 minutes of action off the bench. Sergio and Karczewski answered a Susquehanna score with back-to-back layups as the Mariners trailed just six, 73-67, with 2:38 to play. Karczewski brought USMMA to 75-70 at the 1:16 mark with a tough inside lay-in.
The Crusaders capitalized on their free throws down the stretch, making a perfect 12-of-12 at the charity stripe in the final 1:06 of regulation. Susquehanna sealed the 87-77 win as both teams now turn their attention to the Landmark Conference Tournament.
Merchant Marine is one of just three teams to defeat the Royals this season, knocking off Scranton in overtime on the road earlier this season. This will be the second straight season that USMMA is the fourth-seed in the Landmark Conference Tournament.