Kings Point, NY – The USMMA men's basketball team overcame a tough effort from the Vaughn Warriors Sunday afternoon to claim a 70-64 victory inside O'Hara Hall. Payton Ball (Hempstead, NC) dropped in a career high 12 points while Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) led the way with 18 points. The Mariners finished the day with a 44-32 rebounding advantage en route to their second win of the weekend.
Merchant Marine (11-11) grabbed a 15-6 advantage early in the first half on a George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, NY) layup. The cushion reached 13 points at 31-18 following a David Smith (Lakewood, WA) three-pointer and a Bally lay-in. Smith filled up his stat line with a team high 11 rebounds as well as five points, four assists, one block, and one steal.
Vaughn (12-10) closed an eight point halftime deficit to 50-46 at the 12:02 mark following a pair of Darren Perez free throws. Rashad Luckett was the leading scorer for the Warriors with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Vaughn never trailed but continued to play hard and stay within striking distance until a Luckett deep three-ball made it a one possession game, 66-64, with 2:41 to play.
The USMMA defense would lock down from that point and hold the visitors without a point for the remainder of the game. Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, PA) forced his way inside to supply two of his 10 points to make it 68-64 with just over a minute left. Matthew Miller (Augusta, GA) and Preston Padgett (Leavenworth, KS) who finished with a career high 10 rebounds, both made a free throw down the stretch to seal the 70-64 verdict.
Merchant Marine returns to the court Saturday afternoon for a pivotal Landmark Conference showdown at Juniata.