Madison, NJ - Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) recorded a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds but Mike Klinger of Drew had a game high 24 points for the Rangers in a 77-63 triumph over Merchant Marine Wednesday night. The Mariners had won six-of-seven heading into the game but struggled from three-point range, shooting 1-of-16 (6.2%) from beyond the arc. Despite the loss, USMMA controls its own playoff destiny in the season finale Saturday against Susquehanna.
Drew (11-13, 5-8 Landmark) engineered a 15-4 run early in the first half as Brian McLaughlin hit a three-pointer to give the home side a 22-10 advantage. Payton Ball (Hempstead, NC) cut into the Mariners deficit with a jumper to make it a four point affair, 25-21 with 7:36 to play in the first half. Jason Huelbig recorded a double-double for the Rangers, 14 points and 10 rebounds, as Drew held just a 32-30 edge heading into the intermission.
Merchant Marine (12-12, 6-7 Landmark) stayed within striking distance through the early stages of the second half before a Matthew Miller (Augusta, GA) layup gave USMMA its first lead, 47-46, with 12:12 to play. Miller added 10 points off the bench for the Mariners but the Rangers rallied back to grab a 57-52 edge on a Zach Nolan trifecta. Zach Karczewski (Austin, TX), who finished with 12 points, hit one-of-two at the free throw line made it 58-55 with just over five minutes on the clock.
Drew engineered an 8-2 run that turned the momentum in favor of the Rangers down the stretch. The Rangers finished the game 26-of-31 (83.9%) at the free throw line and cruised in the final minutes to the 77-63 triumph.
USMMA takes on Susquehanna Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM with Senior Day festivities to take place before the opening tip. The Mariners can earn a spot in the Landmark Conference Tournament with a win or if both Goucher and Moravian lose.