LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Reed Buck continues to have his biggest games on the brightest stages. His career-high 35 points, including 25 in the second half, was enough to help the United States Merchant Marine Academy overcome a 14-point halftime deficit to beat Wesley College 87-78 on Friday in the second game of the D3hoops.com Classic for both schools.
In the early going, the Wolverines from Wesley were the hot shooters, as they made eight three-pointers on just nine attempts in the first half to lead the Mariners by as many as 19. Wesley used a 17-2 run in the middle of the first half to turn an early 10-9 deficit into a 26-12 lead with just over nine minutes to go before halftime.
The Mariners clawed back a little as a pair of buckets from Zach Karczewski and Kevin Kerr allowed USMMA to cut the deficit to just 11. That's when Wesley made another run, using back-to-back three-pointers from Eric Selby and JJ Bryant, and a layup from Paul Reynolds to hit their high water mark of a 19 point lead. The layup from Reynolds was the junior forward's 1,000th career point.
From there, the Mariners went on their own 8-0 run, using five points from Bryan Lynch, and a three-pointer from Kevin Kerr, to cut the deficit to 11 before Wesley regained a 14-point lead heading into the break.
After halftime, USMMA stormed out of the locker room with a 13-4 run in the first four minutes that cut the Mariners deficit to just five, using a three-point play by senior Denver Effland, and four points each from Karczewski and Buck.
The Mariners would retake the lead on a rare five-point play at the 7:38 mark of the 2nd half as Effland set a hard ballscreen for Buck, who made a three-pointer that put Kings Point up by one. After the Buck shot was released, JJ Bryant shoved Effland on the screen, resulting in a pair of bonus free-throws for Effland, which he converted for a three point Mariners lead. It was a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
Buck was simply fantastic down the homestretch for USMMA, as he scored 13 points over the final 7:38, including three trifectas. Kerr was also a key contributor late, knocking down a clutch three-pointer with 5:56 to play put the Mariners up 5, in addition to going 4-4 from the free-throw line in the games' last minute to finish off the victory.
Buck was once again the epitome of efficiency, as his 35 points came on just 21 shots, shooting 13-21 from the floor including 6-9 from 3-point range. He finished the two games in Las Vegas shooting a torrid 21-34 (61.8%) from the floor, including an even hotter 9-13 (69.2%) from beyond the arc.
Seniors Kerr (16) and Effland (14) both finished in double-figures as well, going a combined 16-18 from the charity stripe to finish off the strong Mariners effort. Kerr also added a game-high seven rebounds.
The 57 points the Mariners scored in the second half was the most points they've scored in a half all year, coming on the strength of 18-31 (58.1%) shooting from the field including 5-8 from deep, as well as 16-22 (72.7%) from the line. The Mariners also received excellent production from their bench, not the least of which from junior Josh Beck, who in only four minutes in the second half, produced three offensive rebounds and a pair of free-throws.
The Mariners return to the East Coast for a final non-conference tune-up against the Bantams from Trinity College on Tuesday January 3rd, tip-off from Liebertz Gymnasium in Kings Point is set fro 2:00 PM