KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 20, 2019) – The #2-seed U.S. Merchant Marine Academy women's basketball team is primed for its Skyline Championship Semifinal matchup against #6-seed Farmingdale State tomorrow evening, Thursday, Feb. 21. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Liebertz Gymnasium.
Mariners Ranked Regionally Once Again
The final regional rankings of the regular season were announced by the NCAA on Wednesday and, after dropping out last week, USMMA is featured in the rankings once again! Like they did two weeks ago, the Mariners are ranked eighth in the Atlantic Region. Skyline Tourney top-seed Mount St. Mary has climbed up a spot to #2 in the region. To view d3hoops.com's announcement of the NCAA Regional Rankings, follow this link.
Live Game Coverage
Thursday's Skyline semifinal contest between the Mariners and Rams will feature live stats and a live video broadcast. Returning to call the play-by-play will be USMMA Sports Network's own John Kelly Jr. To access the live stats link, click here. The live video link can be found at this link.
2018-19 Skyline Championship Central
The Skyline Championship tournament began on Tuesday with a pair of first-round games. #6 Farmingdale State narrowly defeated #3 Old Westbury on the road, 60-59, while the other lower seed, #5 Purchase, outlasted #4 St. Joseph's-Brooklyn at St. Joe's, 80-76. The Rams will now travel to Kings Point, while the Panthers move on to face the #1 seed Mount St. Mary Knights.
Head-To-Head Matchups This Year
The Mariners and Rams met twice this season and both decisions went the way of USMMA. The first showdown was at Farmingdale on Thursday, Dec. 6, where the Mariners triumphed, 56-41. They met again a little over a month ago on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Liebertz Gym, and Merchant Marine took that contest, 53-40.
Scouting Farmingdale State
Under 19th-year Head Coach Chris Mooney, the Rams finished the 2018-19 regular season in sixth place in the Skyline standings. Farmingdale State has averaged 57.8 points per game, while their opponents have scored 62.5 per game.
Leading the way for the Rams offensively is sophomore Destiny Hurt, who has scored 19.9 points per game in 18 contests since joining the team in late December. Junior Nia Miller is second on the team with 14.9 points. Hurt also leads FSC with 2.7 steals per game, while Miller is the team-leader with 6.0 assists per game. Defensively, sophomore Alexis Hunter has brought down a team-best 12.2 rebounds per game.
Merchant Marine Leaders
11th-year Head Coach Matt Dempsey has guided the Mariners to their best season in program history this year, as they earned the #2 seed in the Skyline Tournament – their tournament highest seeding ever. USMMA scores 62.6 points per game and holds opponents to just 45.9 points per game, which is the second-best scoring defense in Division III women's basketball.
Freshman Lauren Hunter (Tinley Park, Ill.) has been remarkable for Merchant Marine during her rookie campaign. She leads the Mariners with 17.3 points per game, a .527 shooting percentage and 12.3 rebounds per game. Hunter has recorded an astounding 17 double-doubles on the year.
Junior Kaleigh D'Arcy (White Plains, N.Y.) is second on the squad with 13.7 points per game, while classmate Taylor Hightower (White Plains, Md.) has had an impressive year, leading the Mariners with 3.7 assists per game, 2.2 blocks per game and 2.0 steals per game.
USMMA Playoff History
Merchant Marine has made the conference tournament in eight of its previous 18 seasons, and this is the third-straight year they have qualified for the Skyline Tournament. All-time in Skyline Tourney action the Mariners hold a 2-7 record, and they lost their lone Landmark Conference Tournament game back in 2008. A win on Thursday will put USMMA in its first-ever conference championship game.
The winner of Thursday's semifinal game will move on to the Skyline Championship Game this Saturday, Feb. 23, against the winner of Thursday's other semifinal matchup, #1 Mount St. Mary (21-4, 18-0 Skyline) vs. #5 Purchase (15-11, 10-8 Skyline).
The Championship Game will be played at the highest remaining seed and the winner of the Skyline Championship will earn an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament, which begins next week.
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