KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 20, 2018) – The #4 seed U.S. Merchant Marine Academy women's basketball team defeated visiting #5 seed Mount St. Vincent, 61-52, on Tuesday night at the Liebertz Gymnasium. The win was just the second postseason victory in program history, with the first coming back in the 2004-05 season, and it was also 10th-year head coach Matt Dempsey's 100th on the bench at USMMA.
The Mariners improve to 17-8 on the season and will advance to play top-seeded Mount St. Mary on Thursday night, Feb. 22, up in Newburgh, N.Y., in the Skyline semifinals. The Dolphins end the year with an 11-12 overall record.
A photo gallery of the game is available to view at this link.
Two players recorded double-doubles for the Mariners, as senior Tichina Carmon (Greenville, N.C.) tied for the game-high with 19 points and brought down 15 rebounds to lead all players, while sophomore Taylor Hightower (White Plains, Md.) added 13 points and 12 boards. Freshman Kiana Vega (El Paso, Texas) matched Carmon's 19 points and also brought down six rebounds and dished out a game-best four assists on the night.
Merchant Marine fell behind early, but the action was back-and-forth and the score was tied a total of three times in the first six-plus minutes, including at 7-7 with 3:40 left in the first. From there, the Mariners went on a 9-0 run to open up a 16-7 lead and held a 16-10 advantage at the end of the opening period.
In the second, the USMMA lead hit double-figures for the first time on the night, 20-10 at 6:58, but Mount St. Vincent responded with a 6-1 run to come back within five. However, the Mariners finished the half strong on a 9-1 run and took a 30-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Mariner lead hit its largest of the night at 3:46 of the third when a jumper by Carmon gave the hosts a 44-21 advantage. The Dolphins rattled off a 10-0 run to end the third and trailed by just 13, 44-31, going into the final quarter.
The visitors fought all the way back to within six, 44-38, after scoring the first seven points of the fourth. The Mariners jumped back ahead by 13, 53-40, after a 9-2 run, but CMSV would not go quietly. The Dolphins cut the Merchant Marine lead back down to six points late, 56-50, with 38 ticks left, however Carmon nailed 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to help seal the victory for the Mariners.
For Mount St. Vincent, senior Kristen Merrell scored a team-high 13 points to go along with seven rebounds, while classmate Kelly Nola added 11 points and a team-best eight boards. Freshman Leah Pinili chipped in with nine points for the Dolphins off the bench.
Thursday's semifinal game at #1 seed Mount St. Mary is schedule for a 7 p.m. tip-off at the Knights' Kaplan Center Gymnasium. Live stats and a live video feed of the game will be available with links on the USMMA Women's Basketball Schedule Page.
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