PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (Jan. 10, 2018) – The USMMA men's basketball team trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, but made a big comeback to defeat Skyline opponent St. Joseph's of Long Island, 73-71, on Wednesday night at the Golden Eagles' Danzi Athletic Center. With the victory, the Mariners improve to an even 6-6 (4-4 Skyline), while St. Joe's fall to 2-10 (2-6 Skyline).
Four players scored in double-digits for Merchant Marine, with senior Christian Wittendorf (Granger, Ind.) leading the way with a game- and season-high 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Freshman Seth Barnes (Chillicothe, Ohio) was right behind with 17 points, while classmate James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) had 13 and sophomore Eric Sobocinski (Southampton, N.Y.) contributed 11 (thanks in part to three three-pointers).
Barnes also tied senior Stephen Hinton (Warrenton, Va.) with a game-high seven rebounds on the night, while both he and Walsh dished out five assists apiece, which also tied for the game-best. Hinton also led all players in the game with three blocks. Freshman Jesse Neloms (Memphis, Tenn.) added seven points off the bench, sophomore Connor Green (Flower Mound, Texas) tallied four points and classmate Michael Bell (Ashburn, Va.) chipped in with three.
The Mariners stayed close, but trailed for most of the contest. The deficit hit double-digits with St. Joseph's first basket of the second half that made the score 44-34. Play was back-and-forth from there before the Golden Eagles took an 11-point advantage, 56-45, at 13:33.
From there, however, Merchant Marine used a game-changing 14-0 run to take its first lead since midway through the first half, 59-56 at 7:17. The hosts tied the score up shortly after and then twice more in the next three minutes, but fell back behind on a layup by Walsh that gave the Mariners the lead for good, 69-67 at 5:18.
Neither team scored a point in the final 2:10 of the game and St. Joseph's missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
For the Golden Eagles, senior Trey Kinard drained a team-high 17 points, while classmate Isaiah Moore added 15 to go along with a team-best five assists. Both Kinard and sophomore Brad Weiss led SJC with five rebounds each.
The Mariners return to action on Saturday, Jan. 13, for a Skyline Conference showdown with Mount St. Mary College as part of a doubleheader with the women's team. Tipoff of the men's game with the MSMC Knights is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the newly-renovated Liebertz Gymnasium. Live stats and a live video feed of the contest will be available with links on the USMMA Men's Basketball Schedule Page. Prior to the game, at the conclusion of the women's game at approximately 1:30 p.m., there will be a special ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new gym floor.
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