SCRANTON, Pa. – On Wednesday evening, the fourth-seeded United States Merchant Marine Academy men's basketball team fell to the top-seeded University of Scranton in the semifinal round of the 2011 Landmark Conference Postseason Tournament by a final score of 74-71 in overtime at the Long Center in Scranton, Pa.
The Mariners (14-12) struggled through the first half despite shooting 46.7% from the field. USMMA was down 18-11 with 11 minutes expired. Kings Point found some trouble with turnovers and fouls, but was able to get to the intermission behind just 34-30. Freshman guard Jeffrey Mark (Elmont, N.Y.) hit a three-pointer with 27 seconds left to give USMMA positive momentum going into halftime.
With 12:53 remaining in the half, the Mariners continued to battle with the Royals and trailed by three (47-44). With 6:53 remaining, freshman forward Reed Buck (Lawrenceville, Ga.) put the Mariners within three points again with a good basket from behind the arc (54-51).
Senior forward Tom Izzo (Bridgeport, W. Va.) then drove in a breakaway lay-up one minute later to get the Mariners to within one point. The Mariners continued to answer Scranton's baskets by hitting their own and stayed within six or less points of the hosts over the last 10 minutes of the half.
With 2:24 remaining in regulation, Izzo converted on both free throws to trim Scranton's lead to 59-57.
A Matt Hueber (Alexandria, Va.) jumper in the paint with 34.8 seconds left brought the Mariners to within three points of the Royals (65-62). Sixteen seconds later, senior forward Richard Roach (Monticello, Ind.) put back a lay-up to make it a one-point lead for Scranton at 65-64.
Merchant Marine then had possession of the basketball with 1.8 seconds left. Izzo inbounded the ball to Hueber, who floated a quick lay-up in to knot the game at 66-all and send the contest to overtime.
The extra five minutes saw three scoring ties and witnessed each squad gaining the lead twice. However, the Mariners had free throw opportunities, but could not convert, and Scranton held on for the tight 74-71 victory.
For the Mariners, Izzo and Hueber scored a team-high 23 points each. Roach notched the game's only double-double with 11 points and 11 boards. In addition, Izzo had nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Hueber brought down seven rebounds.
For the Royals, Luke Hawk scored a contest-best 26 points, while Zach Ashworth had 17. Travis Farrell added 16 points. Hawk had eight rebounds and Ashworth recorded nine.
Head Coach Danny Nee and the Mariners will now wait to see if they receive a bid into a postseason tournament. For all the latest, please continue to check www.usmmasports.com.