KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 16, 2016) – The USMMA men's basketball team lost a home Landmark Conference battle against visiting Juniata College, 85-67, at the Liebertz Gymnasium. The defeat drops the Mariners' record to 8-7 (4-5 Landmark), while the Eagles improve to 12-4 (5-2 Landmark).
Senior Preston Padgett (Leavenworth, Kan.) matched the game-high with 24 points, while three other players added nine points each – seniors David Smith (Lakewood, Wash.) and Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, Pa.) and junior Matt Miller (Augusta, Ga.). Smith also led all players in the game with nine rebounds, while Dennin dished out season-best four assists. Sophomore Robbie Kennedy (Spring Lake, N.J.) contributed eight points off the bench, while junior George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, N.Y.) chipped in with six in his first start since the 2013-14 season.
Padgett began the afternoon in the same place he ended the last game, at the free throw line, as he sunk two freebies to give Merchant Marine the early lead. The two squads then traded the next three baskets until it was tied 6-6 at 17:53. Juniata went ahead with four straight in the next minute and a half.
The Eagles held the advantage, but the Mariners kept it close for the next eight minutes, until the visitors' lead reach double-figures, 30-20, at 5:57. USMMA fought back to within five points with a 6-1 run and answered each Juniata score the remainder of the half, eventually going into the locker room at halftime trailing, 34-29.
Juniata came out strong to start the second half, building its lead up to 13 points with eight-straight points in the first 2:22. USMMA came back to within eight or nine points a couple of times over the next nine minutes, until a 10-2 run in the middle of the half put the visitors ahead by 17 points with 6:26 remaining. The Eagles' advantage reached as high as 19 three times in the final 4:35 of action, and they held on for the victory.
Four players scored in double-figures for the Eagles, as sophomore Damon Rickens led the way with 24 points, classmate Marcus Lee added 19, freshman Brandon Martinazzi added 16 off the bench and senior Justin Fleming recorded 14. Martinazzi brought down a team-best seven boards, while Fleming dished out a game-high six assists.
Earlier in the morning on Saturday, the USMMA men's basketball program welcomed back a handful of alumni to take part in the Annual Alumni Day Game. It was the second-straight year that head coach Steve Hayn and his coaching staff invited back his great Mariner alums to compete. It was a very successful event, full of some highlight plays and great laughs and memories.
The Mariners are back at it this Monday, Jan. 18, when they host Elizabethtown in another Landmark showdown beginning at 2 p.m. at the Liebertz Gym. Live stats and a live video feed of the game will be available by following those links.
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