Kings Point, NY - Preston Padgett (Leavenworth, KS) grabbed an offensive rebound, got fouled, and made two free throws with 27.9 seconds left to break a 64-64 tie and send Merchant Marine to a 68-66 win over Trinity (CT) Tuesday night inside O'Hara Hall. Padgett made his first start of the season count as the sophomore racked up a game high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The Mariners snapped a four game losing streak by overcoming an 11-point deficit with 12:44 remaining in regulation.
Merchant Marine (6-8) cut into a 64-62 deficit with 31 seconds to play before Hunter Jones (Goodyear, AZ) made the first of two free throws. The freshman missed his second attempt but David Smith (Lakewood, WA) grabbed the offensive rebound. Smith would also make one-of-two shots at the charity stripe, setting up Padgett's play with the game deadlocked at 64-64. Jones finished the night with seven points, three assists and two blocks for the Mariners.
Trinity (CT) (9-6) engineered a 16-4 run over 6:30 minutes early in the second half to open up a 48-37 cushion on a Rick Naylor jump shot. Alexander Conaway anchored the Bantam offense with 14 points while George Papadeas totaled eight points and 13 rebounds. Trinity struggled from three-point range, shooting just 21.4 percent (3-14) from downtown, and at the free throw line, managing only 15-of-28 (53.6%) at the charity stripe.
USMMA had to overcome its own struggles at the free throw line as the home team made 17-of-34 (50%). However, the Mariners took care of the ball in the second half, committing just two turnovers throughout a hotly contested period. Merchant Marine completed its comeback with a 12-3 run that was capped by a Jones trifecta that knotted the score at 57-57 with 5:08 on the clock.
Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) brought the Mariners back to even again at 64-64 on a layup with 1:11 left as part of his 15-point, 11-rebound performance. The Bantams had grabbed a 64-62 edge on a Papdeas layup through traffic. Following Padgett's free throws, Zach Karczewski (Austin, TX) came up with his third steal of the night and was immediately fouled. The senior converted both free throws and Jaquann Sparks answered by knocking down a jumper with one second to go. The Mariners were able to inbound the ball quickly and the horn sounded to secure the Mariners 68-66 triumph.
The USMMA men's basketball team returns to action Saturday afternoon for a Landmark Conference contest at Susquehanna.