By Michael Lewis
KINGS POINT, N.Y. – As Mariners basketball fans are quickly discovering this season, their Buck doesn't necessarily stop here, there or anywhere else, for that matter.
In fact, this Buck doesn't stop working.
Sophomore forward Reed Buck scored seven of his team-high 20 points in the second overtime to lead the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to a 94-87 thriller over Drew University in the Landmark Conference opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon.
The victory boosted the Mariners to 3-2 overall, 2-0 at home and 1-0 in conference, while the Rangers fell to 2-4 overall and 0-1 in Landmark.
The encounter had a little bit of everything, from 11th-hour foul-shooting heroics to last-second baskets being nullified due to an offensive foul to the home team losing a 10-point second-half lead and two Mariners fouling out at Liebertz Gymnasium.
Kings Point outscored Drew 16-9 in the second five-minute session. After the Mariners' Jeffrey Mark (nine points) and the Rangers' Terrell Brown (18 points, 20 rebounds) traded baskets, Buck gave the hosts the lead to stay at 82-80 sinking a shot from the right corner with 3:55 remaining. Some 50 seconds later, the Lawrenceville, Ga. was at it again, this time from three-point range for an 85-80 advantage. Quite appropriately, the 6-5 Buck put the finishing touches to the win and a long afternoon by canning two foul shots with 11.9 seconds left for the final points of the game.
Reed has been a pleasant surprise for the Merchant Marines. After coming off the bench in the opening four games – including a 29-point effort in Tuesday night's 85-77 loss at Coast Guard -- coach Danny Nee gave him his first start on Saturday. He did not disappoint, pumping in 8-of-15 shots from the field 2-of-7 from three-point range and making his lone free throw. He also had eight rebounds.
While Buck's heroics stood out in the final four minutes, he certainly was far from a one-man show. He had some help in second OT as sophomore forward Nick Sergio (10 points, seven rebounds) added three points down, Kevin Kerr (14 points, six steals, four assists) contributed a basket and Mark put in two free throws in the final 63 seconds.
The Mariners overcame a superb effort by Drew senior guard Asmar Capers, who finished with 36 points on 13-of-20 field-goal shooting, 4-of-8 from three-point range and 6-8 from the foul line. What made his performance more remarkable was that he had but two points at the half.
At that juncture, the Mariners enjoyed a 34-24 advantage. They had a 39-29 lead with 18:13 before Drew, mostly led by the hot shooting and heroics of Capers and Brown, rallied and outscored the hosts, 39-25 over 16:22 to grab a 68-64 lead with 1:40 remaining.
Things looked bleak for the Mariners, but Kerr hit a three-pointer with 1:04 left to bring them within a point. After Brown missed two free throws with 48 seconds remaining in regulation, senior forward Denver Effland (18 points) put home a rebound of a missed Kerr shot and the ensuing foul shot for a 70-68 edge with 36.4 seconds to go. Capers hit a driving basket with 20.5 seconds left, but not before Kerr missed a long shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
The rollercoaster ride continued and wound up having higher highs and lower lows into the first overtime.
The Rangers took 77-75 lead on back-to-back three-point baskets by Capers and Brown. Again, the Mariners battled back as Buck hit a shot from the left corner for a 77-77 tie with 42 seconds remaining in that extra session. After Karczewski stripped Capers of the ball with 23.6 seconds left, he was fouled by Bobby Falconiero (12 points) and sank one of two shots. Trying to deny Capers with 12.9 seconds remaining, Karczewski committed his fifth foul as became the second Mariner to foul out, joining teammate Frank Wiseley on the sidelines.
The Mariners thought they had scored the game-winning basket with but 1.5 seconds remaining, but Effland's driving basket was negated as he was called for an offensive foul by game officials for running into Mehmet Onen.
That set up a memorable second OT and Buck's heroics.
The Mariners were superb from the field, converting 37-of-73 attempts for a 50.7 percent rate, which fell to 28.6 percent on 8-for-28 shooting from three-point range.
The Rangers canned 43.7 percent of their field-goal tries (31-of-71), and 29.0 percent from three-point range (9-of-31).
Merchant Marine out-rebounded Drew, 43-42.
The Mariners host Stevens in a non-conference match at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Photo: Reed Buck had another big game for Kings Point this week. Photo by Shawn Antonelli