KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 10, 2017) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's basketball team won an absolute thriller in triple-overtime, 74-72, on Sunday afternoon over visiting Skyline Conference opponent Mount St. Vincent at the Liebertz Gymnasium. In victory, the Mariners improve to 4-2 (3-1 Skyline), while the Dolphins fall to 3-4 (2-3 Skyline) after suffering the heartbreaking loss.
Five different Mariners scored in double-figures on the afternoon, including senior George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, N.Y.), who led all players in the game with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Classmate Robbie Kennedy (Spring Lake, N.J.) and sophomore Eric Sobocinski (Southampton, N.J.) both contributed 15 points each in the victory, with 10 of Kennedy's 15 coming in the three overtime periods, as he led all players in the extra frames.
Sophomore Connor Green (Flower Mound, Texas) had his best outing of the young season thus far with 12 points (five coming in the three OT periods) and a game-high five assist and freshman James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) rounded out the Mariner scorers in double-digits with 10 points, while also bringing down six boards.
Junior David Washington (Frisco, Texas) brought down a team-best 12 rebounds (five in overtime) and had a game-high six blocked shots and five steals. Washington and freshman Jesse Neloms (Memphis, Tenn.) both chipped in with two points on the day, and Neloms finished the afternoon with three assists, including two in the overtime periods.
The Mariners led for a majority of the afternoon, including nearly the entire second half. They built up as high as a nine-point advantage, 42-33, at 13:15 of the second half. The Dolphins responded with a 9-1 run to come within one point, 43-42 at 7:01.
Merchant Marine would go on to take leads of six and five points on two separate occasions over the next three minutes, however Mount St. Vincent hung around and eventually tied the game up at 53-53 with just 10 seconds remaining in the half to force overtime. The Dolphins actually had a chance to win it with the final possession of regulation, but could not convert.
CMSV scored an uncontested layup right away off of the tipoff to start the first overtime, which gave the visitors their first lead since around the nine-minute mark of the first half. The first OT started off rather quiet, with neither team scoring again until Green hit a pair of free throws at 1:51 to tie the score up at 55. Two Dolphin layups were answered by two free throws by Hatzioannides and a jumper by Neloms which tied the score up at 59-59 with 25 seconds to play. After an offensive foul gave USMMA possession with six seconds to go, the Mariners could not cash in on the final possession.
It was Merchant Marine that struck first in the second OT, when Green hit a jumper at 4:12. That was answered by a three-pointer by Mount St. Vincent at 3:44, before Hatzioannides put the Mariners back on top at 3:16 with a jumper. However, the Dolphins responded with their own jumper just 17 seconds later to take the lead back. After Kennedy hit one of his two free throws to tie up the score at 64-64 at 2:17, another basket wasn't scored until the visitors went ahead with just 39 seconds left. Kennedy tied the score up at 66-66 with a layup with just eight ticks left and CMSV missed its jumper at the other end as time expired.
Kennedy scored seven of the Mariners eight points in the third overtime period, as he started off the scoring at 4:46 with a jumper. Again, the Dolphins responded with a three-pointer to take the lead, but Kennedy drained his own three to put USMMA back ahead, 71-69 at 2:46. After Mount St. Vincent hit 3-of-4 free throws over the next two-plus minutes, the visitors held a 72-71 lead with 1:22 to go. Kennedy hit a jumper at 1:02 to put the Mariners back ahead, 73-72 at 1:02.
Both teams missed three-pointers in the final minute and Mount St. Vincent had a chance to win the game on transition play, but the man under the hoop with a good chance at the game-winning layup misplayed the ball and it went out of bounds with less than a second to play. After an immediate foul and Green knocking down 1-of-2 free throws, CMSV got an inbound under the Mariner basket with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock, but their inbound pass went out of bounds and USMMA held on for the victory.
For Mount St. Vincent, freshman Makai Johnson led the way with 15 points off the bench (six in overtime), while senior Matthew Sowah added 14 and sophomore Raquis Harris had 13 as part of a double-double with 11 rebounds. Senior Ammad Alkhulaidi brought down 13 rebounds to lead all players, while also tying for the game-high with five assists to go along with a team-best three steals.
The Mariners return to action on Thursday night, Dec. 14, with a road Skyline Conference contest against Yeshiva University in Manhattan. Action is set to get underway at 8 p.m. at the Maccabees' Max Stern Athletic Center. 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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