KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 8, 2016) – The USMMA men's basketball team lost a non-conference tilt to visiting Rutgers-Camden, 70-67, on Monday night in the squad's home-finale at the Liebertz Gymnasium. In defeat, the Mariners' record falls to 11-10, while the Scarlet Raptors improve to 3-19.
Junior George Hatzioannides (Oakland Gardens, N.Y.) led Merchant Marine with 14 points, while senior David Smith (Lakewood, Wash.), junior Matt Miller (Augusta, Ga.) and sophomore Robbie Kennedy (Spring Lake, N.J.) all added 12 points each. Smith and Miller also brought down a team-best seven rebounds apiece, with Smith adding four assists, three blocks and a steal.
The Mariners led for a majority of the game, picking up their first lead at 17:30 of the first and not relinquishing the advantage until 10:09 of the second half. The USMMA lead reached as high as 11 points at 2:59 of the first when a three-pointer by Padgett made the score 30-19. In the final two minutes of the first, however, the Scarlet Raptors finished with a 12-5 run to cut the deficit to four, 35-31, into the halftime break.
In the second half, Merchant Marine went back up by as many as eight points, 45-37, in the first three-plus minutes, but Rutgers-Camden chipped away at its deficit over the next seven minutes, and at 10:09 of the second took a one-point lead on a jumper by freshman Elijah Robles that made the score 48-47 in favor of the guests. The Mariners jumped back ahead on a layup by Smith just 19 seconds later and play was back-and-forth in the next four-plus minutes with the Scarlet Raptors tying the score three separate times before taking the lead back at 5:27 on another basketball by Robles.
The two teams swapped the lead three more times in the next three-and-a-half minutes and the Mariners took a one-point advantage after Smith hit career points 998 and 999 with two free throws to make it 65-64. RUC responded with two free throws of their own 10 seconds later to take the lead back and had a stop at the other end of the court and Robles hit another jumper to extend the lead to three, 68-65, with 56 seconds remaining.
A costly turnover led to another foul against the Mariners and Robles hit one-of-two to put the visitors up by four. Miller was fouled at the other end and made both shots to cut the deficit to two. The loud crowd looked to affect Robles' free throw shooting at the other end and it worked for his first shot, but he drained the second with just 13 ticks remaining to put the Scarlet Raptors ahead by three. At the other end a three-pointer fell short with three seconds remaining, and the Mariners got the rebound and quickly called timeout, but were unable to get a shot off off of the in-bound pass with 0.6 seconds remaining and time ran out.
Rutgers-Camden was led by Robles, who scored a game-high 19 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards. Three other Scarlet Raptors scored in double-figures, as senior John Tatem and sophomore Abby Bah both registered double-doubles with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Tatem and 11 points and a game-high 17 boards for Bah, and freshman Isaac Destin chipped in with 10 points.
The Mariners return to the hardwood this Saturday, Feb. 13, when they travel to Huntingdon, Pa., to take on Landmark Conference opponent Juniata in a crucial late-season meeting. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Eagles' Memorial Gymnasium. Live stats and a live video feed will be available with links appearing on the USMMA men's basketball schedule page later this week. Senior David Smith will look to reach the 1,000-point plateau during the game, as he now sits just one point shy after the 12 tonight.
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