KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 7, 2017) – Backed by a career-high 25 points by senior Robbie Kennedy (Spring Lake, N.J.), the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's basketball team shocked reigning Skyline Conference Champion Farmingdale State, 71-53, Thursday night at the Liebertz Gymnasium. With the victory, the Mariners improve to 3-2 (2-1 Skyline) on the season, while the Rams fall to 4-3 (2-2 Skyline) in defeat.
Kennedy shot 8-for-14 from the floor with five three-pointers, including draining the first three 3's he took in the opening seven-plus minutes of action. He finished the first half with 13 of his 23 points. Sophomore Eric Sobocinski (Southampton, N.J.) recorded 10 points, seven of which came in a strong second half for Kennedy's fellow New Jersey native. He also finished the night with a game-high five steals.
Freshmen Jesse Neloms (Memphis, Tenn.) and James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) both contributed 10 points apiece off the bench, with Neloms hitting on 4-of-6 from the field and Walsh on 4-of-8 with two three-pointers. Senior George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, N.Y.) chipped in with eight points and led all players in the game with seven assists, while sophomore Connor Green (Trophy Club, Texas) drained six points with four assists and junior David Washington (Frisco, Texas) scored two points to round out the Mariners' scorers and brought down a team-high eight rebounds.
The Mariners trailed by as many as seven points on two different occasions in the first half, including a 22-15 deficit at 8:42. From that point, USMMA rattled off a 14-5 run to take its first lead of the game, 29-27 at 2:30 of the opening half. After a Rams' layup tied up the score 29 seconds later, the Mariners finished the half on a 6-0 run to take a 35-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
A 10-4 run to open the second half gave Merchant Marine a 45-33 advantage at 17:29, but Farmingdale responded with the next seven points to cut the lead to just five, 45-40, at 16:05. The Mariners quickly scored the next 11 points in under three minutes to take a 16-point lead, 56-40 at 13:36, and the advantage did not drop back under double-digits the remainder of the night. It hit as high as 22 points with 2:59 remaining when Walsh hit a three to make it 71-49.
For the Rams, junior George Riefenstahl led the team with 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Classmates Ali Mableton and Matthew Graham both drained nine points, with Mableton leading Farmingdale with four assists.
The Mariners return to the hardwood on Sunday, Dec. 10, when they host Skyline opponent Mount St. Vincent. Tipoff against the Dolphins is scheduled for 3 p.m., or roughly 30 minutes after the preceding women's game at the Liebertz Gymnasium. Live stats and a live video feed of the contest will be available with links on the USMMA Men's Basketball Schedule Page.
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