Scranton, PA - The USMMA men's basketball team was unable to upset top-seeded #23 Scranton in the Landmark Conference Tournament semifinals, falling to the Royals, 82-64, Wednesday night. Senior Zach Karczewski (Austin, TX) led the Mariners with 15 points while sophomore Preston Padgett (Leavenworth, KS) dropped in four trifectas en route to a 13-point performance. Ross Danzig, the favorite to win Landmark Conference Player of the Year honors, recorded a game high 25 points for the Royals along with grabbing nine rebounds
Merchant Marine (12-14) closed an early 7-2 deficit and pulled even with a Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) followed by a Padgett three-ball. Sergio rounded out his collegiate career with seven points and 10 rebounds against the Royals. The Mariners claimed their first lead of the night at the 10:50 mark of the opening half as Karczewski buried a three-pointer to make it 16-14. USMMA shot 48.1 percent from the field in the first half and was 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. However, Merchant Marine trailed a red-hot Royal team, 39-36, heading into the halftime intermission.
Scranton (23-3) came out strong in the second half, scoring the first nine points of the period and pushing its cushion to 47-36 on a Tommy Morgan layup. The Mariners were unable to gain ground on the home team through the majority of the second half. George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, NY) eventually pulled USMMA to within nine points at 66-57 with 6:11 to play in regulation. Hatzioannides finished the night with 13 points and four assists while playing 21 minutes off the bench.
The Mariners again climbed to the nine point threshold following another trey from Padgett at the five minute mark. However, Scranton closed the game on a 13-4 run to win its 13th straight game and end USMMA's upset bid with the 82-64 triumph. The Royals shot a blistering 56.5 percent from the floor and was 26-of-36 (72.2%) from the free throw line.
Merchant Marine has now earned Landmark Conference Tournament bids in each of the last two seasons and will look for a third in 2014-15.