Blue Knights Take Season Series From USMMA

NEWBURGH – The Mount Saint Mary College Men’s Basketball team stopped a three-game slide on Saturday afternoon, earning a 71-56 home win over the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The Knights, who swept the season series from the Mariners, knocked in a season-high 11 three-point field goals in the victory.

A tightly contested first half saw the two sides trade the lead on seven occasions, before the Mount put together a 16-7 stretch that saw it pull in front 32-24 with just shy of two minutes left before halftime. The Knights went 6-for-8 from the floor over the run that covered just over six minutes with Jovin Ramos canning a pair of triples to key the spurt.

After gaining the half-high eight points advantage, the Mount saw USMMA score the final five points of the period, all from the free-throw line, to get back to within 32-29 at the intermission. Brandon Bomboy converted five straight free-throws in the final 41 seconds to get USMMA back to within a single possession at the break.

Mount Saint Mary shot an efficient 54.5-percent from the floor over the first 20 minutes and went 6-for-11 from three-point range before the break to build the halftime advantage. The Mariners shot an even 40-percet and hit on just one of nine of their three-point chances. Kendall Francis for the Mount and Blaine McDonough for the Mariners led all scorers at the break with eight points apiece.

Mount Saint Mary never trailed in the second half on Saturday and after the Mariners closed to within 32-30 in the opening minute of the period, used a 9-1 stretch to push its lead to 41-31 with 16:56 left in regulation time. The Knights hit on all three of their field goal attempts in the run, including a pair of three-pointers from senior Tristan Millett.

After gaining the ten-point lead just over three minutes into the second stanza, the Knights did not allow the visitors closer than five points the remainder of the day. Following a James Walsh three-pointer that sliced the Mount’s lead to 47-42 with 10:54 left to play, the Knights got the lead back to 53-42 thanks to a Francis triple and a pair of free-throws from Paul Sienke.

After jumping in front by 11 with 9:33 left, USMMA never got closer than seven points and grew the lead to the final and game-high advantage 15 on a pair of Jameson Morton free-throws in the final minute.

Mount Saint Mary improved to 55.6-percent shooting in the second half and continued its hot shooting from distance, making five of its nine three-point attempts. Sienke led the Mount with 11 points after the break, going 3-for-3 from the floor with two triples and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.

Francis led a trio of Knights in double-figures with a game-high 15 points, going 5-for-12 from the field with a trio of triples. Francis added four rebounds, three assists and a steal to the winning effort.

Sienke and Ethan Fox each contributed 13 points to the win with each player going a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor. Sienke added two triples and the duo combined to go 8-for-11 from the free-throw line. Sienke led the team with eight rebounds with Fox adding six caroms and a pair of blocked shots.

Millett equaled his season-high with eight points for the Knights, contributing three assists and three steals. Morton handed out seven assists for the Knights with Ramos coming off the bench to produce seven points.

USMMA was led by 12 points from Seth Barnes with Walsh and McDonough each posting 11 points. McDonough equaled the game-high with eight rebounds with Walsh swiping three steals.

Mount Saint Mary closed the day shooting a season-high 55.0-percent both overall and from three-point range, going 22-for-40 from the field overall and 11-for-20 from three-point range. USMMA shot 41.2-percent overall, but connected on just four of 20 three-point attempts. Mount Saint Mary controlled the transition game, outscoring the Mariners 20-2 on the break.

Saturday’s win improves Mount Saint Mary to 7-16 overall on the season and to 5-9 in Skyline Conference play.

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