KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 13, 2018) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's basketball team suffered a tough Skyline Conference home loss at the hands of visiting Mount St. Mary, 93-92, in overtime on Saturday at the Liebertz Gymnasium. The Mariners' record drops to 6-7 (4-5 Skyline) in defeat, while the Knights improve to 7-8 (7-3 Skyline) with the victory.
Prior to tipoff, the USMMA men's basketball program joined with the Athletics Department, USMMA administration, the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation and special guests, including MARAD Administrator Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby '79, to celebrate the new gym floor with a ribbon cutting ceremony. More information on the special event can be found by following this link.
A photo gallery from Saturday's game can be accessed by clicking here.
On the court, freshman James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y) led all players in the game with 24 points, thanks in large part to six three-pointers, while also grabbing down five boards and tying for the game-high with six assists. He was one of four Mariners to score in double-figures, as senior Christian Wittendorf (Granger, Ind.) added 21 (on 9-of-12 shooting) with six boards and four steals, freshman Seth Barnes (Chillicothe, Ohio) drained 16 and dished out three assists and sophomore Eric Sobocinski (Southampton, N.J.) contributed 14 points.
Junior David Washington (Frisco, Texas) just missed out on a double-double off the bench with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore Connor Green (Flower Mound, Texas) added six points and tied with Walsh for the game-best with six assists and classmate Michael Bell (Ashburn, Va.) rounded out the Mariner scorers with two points to go along with three assists.
The Mariners trailed by as many as 17 points, 74-47, with just 8:25 to go, but fought all the way back to tie the score up at 80-80 with 13 ticks to go after an amazing 23-6 run. The hosts actually had the final shot of regulation after grabbing a rebound with a few seconds left, but Walsh put up a three from just past the half-court line on the Mariners' side as time expired that hit off the backboard and the front rim and bounced out to send the game to overtime.
Merchant Marine held the lead for most of overtime thanks to a jumper by Barnes to open the scoring, followed by a response from the Knights and then a three by Walsh that put USMMA ahead 85-82 at 3:58. Only one free throw was scored over the next nearly three minutes, before MSMC nailed a three and then followed that up with a quick steal and layup that led to a three-point play and the visitors took an 89-85 lead with just 31 seconds to go.
The Mariners played the foul game late, but Mount St. Mary made all four of its free throws down the stretch and led 93-90 with the Mariners getting the final possession of the game with eight seconds to play. After a potential game-tying three was missed, Wittendorf grabbed the rebound with just over a second left and the only play he had was to go up for a layup and hope for an "and-one," but the foul wasn't committed and the Knights held on for the victory.
Five players scored in double-figures for MSMC, led by sophomore Kendall Francis, who drained 23 points. Senior Gerard Nocera added 22, classmate Daniel Wolff had 16 and fellow senior Andrew Holmes and freshman Isaiah Robinson both added 10 apiece – Robinson's coming off the bench. Wolff grabbed down a team-best nine rebounds and senior Tyler McDine dished out a team-high five assists to contribute to the victory.
The Mariners are back in action on Tuesday night, Jan. 16, when they travel out to Farmingdale State College for a Skyline Conference contest. Tipoff against the Rams is scheduled for 7 p.m. at their Walter A. Lynch Sports Center. 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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