KINGS POINT, N.Y. – The Susquehanna University Crusaders never relinquished their early first half lead as they defeated the United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners on Friday night, 68-60. The Crusaders improve to 6-2 in Landmark Conference play and 12-6 overall while the Mariners fall to 2-6 in conference matchups and 7-12 overall.
The Mariners jumped out to a three-point lead to begin the action in the first half due to two free-throws by sophomore Nick Sergio and a jumper from sophomore Reed Buck. The Crusaders quickly answered back with two three-pointers from junior J.T. Watson. The Mariners kept the score close early on, and with 14:45 remaining in the first half, Reed Buck broke away from Crusaders defenders for a fastbreak dunk that sent the home crowd into frenzy. The Crusaders responded with a jumper by junior Harvey Pannell and threes from Watson and senior Spenser Spencer. With 1:37 remaining in the half, the Crusaders took their largest lead of the game, a 16-point advantage over the Mariners. At the half, the Merchant Marine Academy trailed Susquehanna 36-25.
The second half continued as the first did, with the Crusaders controlling the ball and maintaining a healthy lead over the Mariners. With 10:30 left to play, trailing by 15, the Mariners went on a 6-0 run to pull within single digits of the Crusaders for the first time since the first half. The run was highlighted by a layups from Nick Sergio and sophomore Zach Karczewski and a jumper by Reed Buck. The Crusaders would not let up, as junior Brendan Rezney hit two free throws and Spenser Spencer knocked down a three pointer to put the Crusader lead back up to 15 with 4:41 remaining in the game. With 37 seconds left to play, junior Josh Beck sank two free-throws to pull the Mariners within eight, but it was too little too late as time expired and the Crusaders took the victory, 68-60 over the Mariners.
Reed Buck led the Mariners in scoring with 16 points, shooting 7-11 and 2-5 from three-point range. Nick Sergio added 12 points, going 4-7 from the free-throw line, and Josh Beck put up 10 points, shooting a perfect 3-3 and 4-6 from the foul line.
For the Crusaders, the scoring was led by Spenser Spencer who put up 20 points in the game, going 4-7 from three-point range and was a perfect 6-6 from the foul line. J.T. Watson also recorded 17 points on 6-10 shooting and 4-6 from three-point range. It was the three-pointers that made the difference in this game, as the Crusaders made 57.9% of their attempted threes, while the Mariners only made 15.4%. The Crusaders also found success at the foul line out shooting the Mariners in free-throws 77.3% to 61.5%.
Next up for the United States Merchant Marine Academy is another Landmark Conference contest at home as the Mariners host Juniata College Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.