Second Half Surge Propels USMMA to Wednesday Night Win; Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive
Kings Point, NY – The Merchant Marine men's basketball team stormed out of the locker room in the second half and orchestrated a 13-1 run to start the period en route to an 82-68 victory over Drew Wednesday night. The Mariners dominated the glass, pulling down a staggering 60 total rebounds compared to just 29 boards for the visitors. Reed Buck (Lawrenceville, GA) carried the USMMA scoring load as the forward dropped in a game high 24 points.
Drew (9-15, 3-10 Landmark) stayed even with the Mariners early as the two sides battled back-and-forth, finding themselves level at 22-22 with 8:16 to play in the half. Luke Glass was the linchpin of the Rangers attack, tallying 22 points, including 15 in the first half. Drew finished the game with six blocks but only managed 35 percent (21-60) shooting from the floor.
Merchant Marine (13-11, 6-7 Landmark) took a 36-32 advantage into halftime and wasted no time expanding the cushion in the second half. Frankie Wiseley (Emmaus, PA) banged home a three-pointer just 14 seconds into the stanza to start the 13-1 spurt. Josh Beck (Martinsville, NJ) and George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, NY) supplied back-to-back layups before Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, PA) finished a three-point play with a strong move inside. The run was capped as Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) converted a conventional three-point play of his own, continuing USMMA's dominating presence in the paint.
Sergio finished the night with a game high 15 rebounds and pulled down nine offensive boards. Hatzioannides dished out a game high seven assists while Wiseley handed out six helpers of his own. Freshman Andrew Williams (Lantana, TX) continued his superb rookie season as he posted 11 points and six rebounds.
The Merchant Marine lead ballooned to 19 points with 10:54 to play in regulation after a pair of Hatzioannides free throws. However, the Rangers refused to go quietly and made a 13-4 run that made it a ten point affair, 62-52, with 7:21 on the clock. Dennin halted the run with another three-point play and Sergio added an interior basket on the next trip up the floor to push the advantage back to 15 points. The Mariners cruised down the stretch and secured the 82-68 victory.
USMMA finished the game shooting 44.7 percent (34-76) from the floor and had another solid game at the free throw line, making 8-of-11 (72.7%) from the charity stripe. The Mariners combined for 21 assists on their 34 field goals.
The victory keeps the Mariners alive in the Landmark Conference Tournament race as Moravian suffered a loss at the hands of Scranton. Heading into the final day of the regular season three teams have locked up a playoff bid: Catholic (#1), Scranton (#2), and Juniata (#3). In order for Merchant Marine to make the postseason they must defeat Susquehanna on the road this Saturday and have Moravian fall at Catholic.