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December 10, 2011

Mariners keep it close and interesting in loss to Rutgers-Camden, 69-62

KINGS POINT, N.Y. – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy had its best shooting game of the young season on Saturday, but that still wasn't enough to overcome a tough Rutgers-Camden team in a non-conference women's basketball game.

Junior forward Emily Meehan came off the bench to score 13 points and starting junior guard Tamara Kaileh added 12 to pace the Mariners, who suffered a 69-62 defeat at the hands of the Lady Raptors at Liebertz Gymnasium.

The Merchant Marines converted 45.6 percent of their baskets (25-55), while the Lady Raptors (7-1) shot only 36.7 percent from the field (22-60).

The Mariners certainly made Rutgers-Camden sweat until early in the second half, when the visitors slowly pulled away.

In fact, the hosts played a strong opening half en route to a 29-28-halftime lead behind the play of freshman guard Demi VanDerWal, who tallied seven of his nine points then, and Meehan, who had six.  The Mariners led, 6-2 with 17:08 remaining in the half and 27-24 with 1:57 left.

Senior forward Brittany Turner, who was shut out in the opening 20 minutes on 0-for-6 shooting from the field and 0-for-1 attempts from the foul line, caught fire in the second half. She ripped the nets for a game-high 19 points. Moreover, she made three steals, two that were turned into baskets to help turn the tide.

After Kaileh's driving layup gave Merchant Marine a 31-30 only 49 seconds into the second half, Turner sank a fast-break layup to give the Lady Raptors a 32-31 lead.

Turner stripped Kaileh of the ball and sank a layup and was fouled by the Mariners guard. She sank the ensuing foul shot for a 40-33 advantage with 16:17 remaining in the game.

Rutgers-Camden extended its lead to as many as nine points at 45-36 with 14:46 left, but Kings Point kept battling back and grabbed a 59-57 edge on Meehan's rebound basket with 4:53 to go.

But the Lady Raptors and Turner had some plans of their own as they went on a 9-0 run and never looked back.

Turner put home a rebound of her own shot 32 seconds later and a free throw for a 60-59 margin.

After VanDerWal (six assists)  missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with 4:29 left, Loretta Kelly (nine points) and Stephanie Deisley sank free throws for a 62-59 edge. Turner stole yet another ball for a 64-59 lead and substitute freshman guard Lillian Chukwueze (15 points, 11 rebounds) put in a rebound for a 66-59 advantage with 3:14 remaining.

The Lady Raptors shot only 36.7 percent from the field, but they compensated by forcing the Mariners into 19 turnovers, compared to 13 of their own. They also converted 71 percent of their free throws (22-31), compared the Merchant Marines' 58.8 percent (10-17).

The Mariners host St. Joseph's at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Photo: Tamara Kaileh scored 12 points for the Merchant Marines. Photo by Shawn Antonelli