Postgame Photo Gallery
NEWBURGH, N.Y. (Feb. 23, 2019) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy women's basketball team is heading to the NCAA National Championships! The #2-seed Mariners used a staunch defensive effort to defeat top-seeded Mount St. Mary on the road, 44-39, on Saturday up at the Knights' Kaplan Center Gym. USMMA improves to 22-3 on the season with the victory, while MSMC falls to 22-5.
The 39 points was the lowest that Mount St. Mary scored all season, as the Mariners held the Knights to just 25.8-percent shooting on the day (16-for-62).
Junior Kaleigh D'Arcy (White Plains, N.Y.) was chosen as the Skyline Tournament Most Outstanding Player for her efforts in the Mariners' two wins in the tourney. In the title game on Saturday, D'Arcy had a team-high 13 points and just missed out on a double-double with nine rebounds. Freshman Lauren Hunter (Tinley Park, Ill.) recorded a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Mount St. Mary had the momentum early, jumping out to a 12-4 lead 7.5 minutes into the game and holding a 13-7 advantage before the buzzer ended the first quarter.
The Mariners used a 6-0 run early in the second to tie the score up at 15-15 at 7:25. The two teams traded leads the remainder of the quarter and Merchant Marine went into halftime with a 21-19 lead.
The beginning of the third saw USMMA extend its advantage up to seven points twice, including at the five-minute mark when the Mariners held a 30-23 lead. The Knights fought back to within three points, 30-27 at 1:42, but Hunter made the final basket of the quarter to give Merchant Marine a 32-27 lead.
The turning point of the game came early in the fourth quarter, when the Mariners held Mount St. Mary scoreless for over six minutes, building up a game-high 10-point lead, 37-27, into the closing minutes.
With USMMA up nine, 40-31, with 2:36 to play, the Knights battled all the way back to within two points, 41-39, with just 24 seconds left. The Mariners scored two on a pair of free throws to go ahead by four with 22 ticks remaining. MSMC had two chances late, but missed both of its shots and Merchant Marine tacked on one more free throw with seven seconds left to close out the scoring.
For the Knights, senior Kayla Cleare and sophomore Katie Smith both scored a game-high 14 points apiece. Cleare had a double-double with 10 rebounds, while senior Elizabeth Limonta brought down a team-best 11 boards.
The Mariners, who have earned the Skyline's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, will find out their first round opponent this Monday, Feb. 25, at 2:30 p.m. when the NCAA announces the full field of 64 teams for the national championships. More information on the NCAA Tourney can be found at this link and will also be available on www.USMMASports.com early next week.
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