USMMA Squanders Early Lead, Comes Back to Beat USCGA 64-60
The United States Merchant Marine Academy women's basketball team (10-14) defeated the United States Coast Guard Academy (5-17) 64-60 Monday night a Liebertz gymnasium in Kings Point, New York. The win marks the third time in the last four meetings the Mariners have bested their rivals from USCGA.
USMMA opened the game quickly when freshman guard Demi Van Der Wal stole the ball from Bear's freshman guard Brittany Zimmerman and raced up the floor for an easy layup to nab the first two points of the game. The Mariners proceeded to score the next eight capped by a Rebecca Resor jumper giving Kings Point a 10-0 advantage.
The lead would swiftly dissipate as USCGA went on an 11-3 run to pull within two points with 11:13 remaining in the first half. Junior guard Roshenda Josephs quickly responded with two consecutive layups sparking the Mariners to go on a run of their own to head into halftime with a 31-19 advantage, their largest of the game.
Coast Guard came out of the break quickly netting 10 of the half's first 13 points bringing the score to 34-28 with 15:30 remaining. The Mariners appeared to regain control when a Van Der Wal jumper mid-way through the second half opened the Mariners lead back up to eight. However, Coast Guard stormed right back scoring 9 of the next 10 to knot the game at 41 with 8:40 left to play.
When a Van Der Wal three-pointer seemed to grab momentum away from the Bears, Coast Guard freshman guard Alexi Howland grabbed it right back with a three-pointer of her own. After trading buckets once again, this time, a pair of two-pointers, USCGA grabbed their first lead of the game by means of two Zimmerman foul shots. Another pair of freebies by Howland gave the Bears their largest lead of the contest, 50-46 with just under six minutes left in regulation.
Van Der Wal answered with another clutch shot from beyond the arc, bringing the Mariners within one. After two free throws by Bear's sophomore forward Laria Brown, a Van Der Wal jumper and a pair of Josephs foul shots put Kings Point back on top for good.
A missed jump shot by Bears sophomore guard Kaitlin Ward set the stage for a pretty display of passing by Josephs as she drove hard to the lane, drew the defense, and found a wide open Emily Meehan who finished with the lay-in.
Josephs, Van Der Wal and sophomore guard Katie Franchois all hit clutch free throws down the stretch to ice away the victory.
Van Der Wal scored a game high 28 points and Josephs added 18 of her own. Resor had a team high seven rebounds and two blocks. However, the night belonged to senior captain Alicen Heinrich (third from left) who was honored prior to playing in her last home game at Kings Point. Although she seldom lights up the score sheet, Heinrich is a game changer who scraps for rebounds, battles for loose balls, and gives the Mariners a solid inside defensive presence. When not physically in the game, she never checks out mentally. Heinrich can be heard barking instruction and words of encouragement to her teammates from the bench throughout the game. Her leadership both on and off the floor will be missed. Heinrich played 26 minutes Monday night, grabbing six rebounds, scoring four points, and adding one assist.
The Bears were led in scoring by Howland who had 24, the only member of USCGA in double figures. Freshman forward Jamie Waterman added a team high seven rebounds and Freshman Forward Victoria Gurtier had a game high four assists.
The Mariners will close out their season on the road this Saturday February 18th against Drew University.