Kings Point, NY – The United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners (7-11, 1-9) lost a tough bout with the Royals of Scranton University (14-6, 6-3) by a score of 63-54 Wednesday night in Kings Point, NY.
Despite outrebounding and committing less turnovers than the Royals, Merchant Marine never held a lead in the contest and was unable to snag their first ever victory against a tough Scranton team.
The Royals opened a nine point lead, their largest of the half, at the 13:55 mark on a jumper by senior guard Katherine Torto (Binghamton, NY). USMMA scratched and clawed to not let the game get out of hand early, cutting their deficit to five on multiple occasions before letting the Royal advantage slip back to nine with 5:31 remaining.
Slowly, the Mariners put a run together. Clutch free throw shooting by Mariners' senior captain Tamara Kaileh (Kings Park, NY) and a few key field goals by senior captain Roshenda Josephs (Culpeper, VA) helped Merchant Marine net 10 of the half's final 14 points, cutting the Scranton lead to three at the break.
Scranton scored the first four of the second half before Mariners' sophomore guard Demi VanDerWal (Springfield, IL) struck back with a momentum changing three-pointer. A layup and foul shot on a converted and-one play by junior forward Kristina Walz (Monona, IA) brought the Mariners to within one early in the second; causing Scranton to use a timeout.
The Royals came out of the timeout rejuvenated, quickly utilizing a Torto three-pointer and a layup by Landmark Conference leading scorer Meredith Mesaris (Fairfax, VA) to open the Royal lead back up to 39-33.
Not to be outdone, Mariner freshman guard Marlee Chovich (Oregon City, OR) responded with a trifecta of her own to cut the Scranton lead in half.
Scranton would soon catch fire, scoring 10 straight to open a 49-36 advantage. Although the Mariners would get the margin back into single digits, the Royals methodically used the clock to their advantage near the end of the game to seal the victory.
Kaileh led the Mariners in scoring notching 16 points; also in double-figures was VanDerWal who tallied 12 points to go along with her two blocks and three steals.
Josephs grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, and added to her Landmark Conference leading steal total with five.
The Mariners return to action Saturday February 2, when they head to Towson, MD for a rematch against the Gophers of Goucher College (5-14, 1-8) at 5:00 PM.