TOWSON, Md. — Goucher and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy took different paths to get to the 56-56 tie with 2:25 left to play in the Landmark Conference game played tonight in the Decker Sports & Recreation Center.
Over half of the Mariners' 56 points were from 3-point field goals as they went 10-for-24 from distance. David Smith and Matt Miller both knocked down four shots from behind the 3-point line and wound up with a combined total of 39 points.
The Gophers, on the other hand, made only one 3-point basket the entire contest, although they attempted 17 of them. Instead, head coach Leonard Trevino's squad picked up 26 of its first 56 points in the paint and almost that many at the free-throw line. Including the pair of foul shots by Alex Noble (Clinton, Md./Surrattsville) that created the 56-all deadlock, the home team made 21 of its first 27 tries at the charity stripe (.778).
Merchant Marine altered its strategy from launching 3-pointers down the stretch, though. The final basket Smith scored before fouling out six seconds later was a layup that put the Mariners up 58-56.
And after performing so well at the free-throw line, Goucher struggled from there with the game on the line. Two missed free throws gave the ball back to Merchant Marine, and the Mariners worked the ball inside again and the result was another layup — this time by Andrew Williams — that extended the lead to four points with 1:06 remaining.
The Mariners proceeded to make 7-of-8 free throws the rest of the way to claim a 67-62 road win.
The Gophers (3-17, 2-9 Landmark) were able to trim their four-point deficit down to 60-59 when Tre Galloway III (Silver Spring, Md./Paint Branch) drove down the lane to score, drew a foul and hit the free throw with :59 left to play.
Goucher was back at the foul line after Galloway blocked a shot by Miller, still down by just a point, but both attempts were missed. Over the final 1:24, the Gophers converted only two of their seven free-throw attempts.
Fittingly, the first half, which featured seven ties and 10 lead changes, ended with the two teams knotted up at 34-34.
Goucher went ahead for the first time in the second half on a short jumper by Chris Outing (New Windsor, N.Y./James I. O'Neill) that made the score 44-43. The Gophers were able to hold on to the lead for nearly seven minutes until a 3-pointer by Chris Jennings put the Mariners (5-14, 2-9 Landmark) back in front, 48-47.
Galloway, who shared scoring honors for Goucher with Outing by producing 16 points, put Goucher ahead for the final time with a layup that made it 54-53 with 3:45 left to play.
The Gophers had a third double-digit scorer in Noble, who wound up with 14 points.
Goucher's next game is one week from today against Elizabethtown. The Blue Jays defeated the Gophers, 71-48, back on Jan. 17 and will be going for a two-game sweep when they host the rematch at 4 p.m.