KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 21, 2017) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's basketball team started its season off on the right foot on Tuesday night with a big 83-71 win of Purchase College in Skyline Conference action at the Liebertz Gymnasium. The victory, which was first-year head coach Rob Pryor's first at Kings Point, starts the Mariners off 1-0 (1-0 Skyline) on the year, while the Panthers – who were #2 in the Skyline Preseason Coaches' Poll coming into the season – fall to 2-2 (0-1 Skyline).
Four players scored in double-figures for USMMA with junior David Washington (Frisco, Texas) leading the way with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Senior Robbie Kennedy (Spring Lake, N.J.) contributed 17 points and tied for the team-best with five rebounds along with classmate George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, N.Y.), who scored 12 points. Washington also had five boards on the night and Kennedy contributed to the offense with a team-best six assists and three steals. Freshman Jesse Neloms (Memphis, Tenn.) rounded out the Mariners with double-digit points with 11 off the bench.
Merchant Marine spread the ball around well throughout the affair, as a total of eight players scored on the night – freshmen Seth Barnes (Chillicothe, Ohio) and James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) both added nine points, sophomore Eric Sobocinski (Southampton, N.J.) contributed four and classmate Connor Green (Flower Mound, Texas) chipped in with three.
The Mariners shot well on the night, making 49.2-percent of their field goals (32-fo-65), and they held the Panthers to a 41.7-perecent clip (25-for-60). Merchant Marine also took advantage of 26 Purchase turnovers and turned that into 30 points off of turnovers in total on the night.
Purchase started the game with five-straight points, but the Mariners responded with the next seven to take their first lead of the night. Play was back-and-forth and USMMA's lead hovered around four or five points for most of the half until it hit eight points (28-20) at 3:56. The Mariners held on to the advantage despite a late run by the Panthers, and they finished the half on a 6-1 run and took a 36-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
A 10-0 run to start the second half by Purchase forced the Mariners to burn a timeout trailing 39-36 at 16:25 to try and halt the visitors' momentum. It definitely worked, as Merchant Marine rattled off a 14-3 run to take a 53-42 lead at 10:52 of the second. After the two teams traded the next three baskets, the Mariners' lead never dropped below double-figures the remainder of the affair, as they cruised to the 83-71 win.
For Purchase, senior Nikeem Deleon led four players in double-digit scoring with 16 points. Junior Michael Soffer added 14, senior Brian Berrios contributed 11 and junior Deshawn Cann had 10. Senior Tarik Allicock chipped in with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Mariners are back in action after the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend break with a road contest at non-conference opponent Hunter College next Tuesday night, Nov. 28. Tipoff against the Hawks is slated for 7 p.m. at the Hunter Sportsplex on the campus of Hunter College in Manhattan. Live stats and a live video feed of the game will be available with links on the USMMA Men's Basketball Schedule Page.
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