NEWBURGH, N.Y. (Feb. 16, 2019) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's basketball team held off Mount St. Mary College on Saturday to earn a 58-55 road Skyline victory in the Mariners' season-finale up at the Knights' Kaplan Center Gym. With the win, USMMA ends the year with a 9-15 record (7-13 Skyline), while MSMC falls to 13-11 (10-9 Skyline) in defeat.
Senior David Washington (Frisco, Texas) led the Mariners with 15 points to go along with nine rebounds and five steals, while junior Connor Green (Flower Mound, Texas) picked up a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Two other players scored in double-figures for Merchant Marine, as sophomore James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) added 11 and freshman Jack Bucher (Carlisle, Pa.) netted 10, while also dishing out a game-high five assists.
USMMA led from wire-to-wire, but the game was close in the beginning and then again at the end. After the visitors built up a seven-point lead, 9-2, at 14:43, Mount St. Mary responded with six-straight to make it a one-point game, 9-8, at 13:15. Green knocked down two free throws and then the Knights responded with a jumper at 11:33 that made it 11-10.
The Mariner defense held MSMC without a basket from 11:33 until 2:10, with the only points for the hosts coming on a pair of free-throws at 6:57, as Merchant Marine gained a 14-point lead, 26-12, at 2:26. The advantage hit 15 points with 30 seconds to play and the Mariners went into the halftime break ahead by 13, 29-16.
A 9-4 run to start the second gave USMMA its largest lead of the day, 18 points, 38-20, but Mount St. Mary kept chipping away and chipping away, eventually coming all the way back to within two points on two separate occasions late, including at 5:34, after draining a trio of free throws.
The Mariners got back ahead by six points twice in the final three minutes, including with just 23 seconds to go after another two from the charity swipe by Green made it 58-52. After a stop, Merchant Marine turned the ball over and the Knights called timeout with 11 seconds to play.
The Mount nailed a three to make it a one-possession game with six ticks left and quickly fouled to put the Mariners at the line for a one-and-one. They missed the free throw, so the Knights got the ball with four seconds left and a chance to tie.
After some confusion, a call was made by the refs that the Mariners forced the ball out of bounds with 0.9 seconds left. Mount St. Mary's desperation three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer sailed over the basket, ending the game.
Junior Kendall Francis led all players in the game with 17 points for the Knights, while sophomore Ethan Fox contributed 10 and a team-best eight rebounds. Francis also recorded four steals to lead Mount St. Mary.
With their 7-13 record in Skyline Conference action, the Mariners finish the regular season tied for seventh place in the league standings, which is two spots higher than at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.
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