KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 30, 2018) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's basketball team edged past St. Joseph's of Long Island for a key Skyline Conference victory, 69-67, at the Liebertz Gymnasium on Tuesday night. The win improves the Mariners' record to 8-9 overall (6-7 Skyline), while the Golden Eagles fall to 4-14 (4-9 Skyline) in defeat.
Junior David Washington (Frisco, Texas) recorded his second-straight double-double with a game-high 18 points and 14 rebounds. He also dished out four assists and led all players with four blocked shots. Two other Mariners also scored in double-figures, as sophomore Eric Sobocinski (Southampton, N.J.) and freshman James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) both contributed 13 points apiece. Sobocinski made a trio of three-pointers and Walsh added three assists and a game-high five steals.
Freshman Seth Barnes (Chillicothe, Ohio) chipped in with nine points, five boards and three steals, while fellow starter sophomore Connor Green (Flower Mound, Texas) posted seven points and a game-high five assists with three boards and two swipes. Off the bench, senior Christian Wittendorf (Granger, Ind.) added seven points and freshman Jesse Neloms (Memphis, Tenn.) rounded out the USMMA scorers with two points, while also dishing out four assists.
The two teams quickly exchanged leads in the opening three minutes and the Mariners held on to an advantage for a majority of the first half, but the Golden Eagles went ahead 24-23 at 4:43. Merchant Marine finished the half on an 11-5 run to ensure its lead was 34-29 at the break.
SJC climbed back into the lead at 7:04 of the second, 54-53, but again USMMA had a response – this time in the form of an 8-2 run that saw the hosts pull ahead 61-56 at 3:53.
Up 69-61 with less than two minutes to play, the Golden Eagles cut the deficit to two points with consecutive three-pointers, but the Mariners held off the guests from there, including forcing a missed jumper in the paint in the waning seconds to secure the 69-67 victory.
St. Joe's outshot the Mariners 50.0% to 29.4% from three-point range and also held a slim advantage from the field (42.9% to 42.6%). Merchant Marine had a big presence down low, scoring 32 of its points in the paint to SJC's 12, but the Golden Eagles controlled the boards, outrebounding USMMA 39-34.
Four players scored in double-figures for St. Joseph's with sophomore Frank Basile leading the way with 17 points. Senior Jarred Marrow added 16, classmate Trey Kinard had 11 and fellow senior Stephen Cohen drained 10. Junior Eddie Higgins just missed out on a double-double with eight points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
Up next, the Mariners will host the other St. Joseph's College in the Skyline Conference, St. Joseph's of Brooklyn, this Thursday night, Feb. 1. Tipoff against the Bears is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Liebertz Gymnasium. Live stats and a live video feed of the game will be available with links on the USMMA Men's Basketball Schedule Page.
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