The United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners (3-0, 1-0) outlasted the Gophers of Goucher College (1-5, 0-1) by a score of 51-46 Saturday afternoon in Kings Point, NY.
The Gopher's took control of the game early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the first 7:56 of play. Merchant Marine didn't record a field goal until the 11:19 mark when senior captain Tamara Kaileh (Kings Park, NY) slashed through the lane and tossed a layup wildly into the hoop for two points.
Despite the lack of scoring, the Mariners were able to keep the contest close by playing solid defense and holding onto the ball. Overall, Merchant Marine forced 28 turnovers scoring 23 of their 51 points off of takeaways. They also only committed 16 of their own, their lowest total thus far this season.
Finishing the half on a 20-12 run, the Mariners were able to take a 22-22 tie into the break after a sophomore guard Demi VanDerWal (Springfield, IL) hit a free throw with 10 seconds remaining.
USMMA would take their first lead of the game at the 14:39 mark of the second half when senior captain Shendi Josephs (Culpeper, VA) grabbed a board at the defensive end and went coast to coast to convert on the fast break layup.
Although Goucher would come back to tie the game on a jump shot by junior forward TaQuasia Lambert (Brooklyn, NY), Merchant Marine took the lead right back by way of a layup from sophomore forward Rebecca Resor (Bay St. Louis, MS) and would not relinquish the lead again.
Another Josephs fast break layup with 5:36 remaining opened the Merchant Marine lead to eight; tying their largest advantage of the game. This would be their last made field goal of the contest, but the Mariners were able to hit just enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Kaileh led Merchant Marine in scoring with 16 points. Josephs had a game high five steals, moving her into third place on the USMMA all-time steals list with 161 for her career. She finished the game with fourteen points and six rebounds.
Kristina Walz (Monona,IA), who led USMMA in scoring their past two games, had a quiet scoring night with seven points, but crashed the boards tallying a game-high 16 rebounds.
The Gophers had two players reach double-doubles. Lambert, had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman forward Katifah Butler (Annapolis, MD) who is averaging double-double figures on the season had a game high in points with 24 and also nabbed a team high 12 rebounds.
The Mariners start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2007-08, which was the last time they qualified for the postseason.
USMMA finishes up their home stand Monday night when Rutgers-Camden (2-2) comes to Kings Point for a non-conference matchup. Tipoff is set for 6:00 PM.