Hartford, Conn. – Junior guard David Smith (Lakewood, Wash.) scored a game-high 23 points and added six rebounds to lead the visiting United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners to a 58-56 win over the Trinity College Bantams in men’s basketball action this afternoon on Stan Ogrodnik Court in Ray Oosting Gymnasium. Trinity falls to 12-3 and sees its 10-game winning streak fall by the wayside with its first home loss of the season. Merchant Marine improves to 3-11 with its first win in six games.
Trinity held leads early, 15-9, 6:27 into the game on a free throw by sophomore forward Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and, 23-15, with 8:02 left in the first half on a drive by junior guard Rick Naylor (Sudbury, Vt.), but the Mariners closes the half with a 9-2 run over the final 5:22 to tie it at 27-27 after one of Smith’s five three-pointers in the final minute. Senior forward Alex Conaway (New Haven, Conn.) paced Trinity and Smith led the Mariners with eight points apiece at the break.
Merchant Marine came out strong in the second stanza, particularly on the defensive end, holding the Bantams to just a single point over the first 6:34 and without a field goal until Naylor’s trey from the corner with 12:21 remaining in the contest. Trinity trailed, 33-28, at the 15:13 mark but used a 15-4 run to take a 42-37 lead with 8:01 on the clock after a put-back by Ogundeko. The Mariners rallied and scored the game’s next 11 points, as Smith nailed a pair of long balls and sophomore guard Matt Miller (Augusta, Ga.) added a third during the spurt.
Ogundeko ended the four-plus minute scoring drought for the Bantams with a 16-foot jumper, but Smith answered with another three-pointer for a 51-44 Mariner lead with under four minutes left to play. Junior forward Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) pulled Trinity to within three at 52-49 with 1:37 remaining on a pair of free throws, but Smith and junior center Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, Pa.) knocked down four in a row from the charity stripe for Merchant Marine and Trinity could not score another field goal until less than 15 seconds were left to play.
Trinity suffered through a cold shooting night, making 20 of 58 shots from the field (34.5 percent), four of 20 shots from beyond the arc (20 percent), and 12 of 18 from the foul line (66.7 percent), while the Mariners connected on nearly 50 percent of its shots from both the field (17-35) and three-point land (6-14) and made 18 of its 25 free throw attempts (72 percent). Trinity lost despite a 33-29 rebounding advantage and just five turnovers to 14 for Merchant Marine. Ajayi was the lone Bantam to score in double figures with 13 points and added five rebounds, two blocks, and five steals. Miller had 13 points and four rebounds, and Dennin finished with nine points, a game-high eight boards, and two blocks for the Mariners.