ARLINGTON, Va. – The Marymount University men's basketball team got back into Atlantic East Conference play on Saturday afternoon in the Converse Family Fieldhouse, falling in a close battle with Gwynedd Mercy University, 73-72.
The game was nothing short of thrilling, as the fans saw 11 ties and 17 lead changes, while neither team sported a double-digit lead through the full 40 minutes.
A first half that was in favor of the Griffins (10-5, 2-0 Atlantic East) at the break, 38-34, was paced by 17 points by Courtney Cubbage. But senior Brandon Rogers found his form early from the field, dropping in four buckets including two long balls for 10 points alongside sophomore Steve Etienne, who came off the bench for 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting.
Cubbage opened the second half with a layup to extend the Gwynedd Mercy advantage to six, but it was narrowed down to one following a layup by junior Ibrahim Kamara and another Rogers' three pointer. After another Cubbage finish, junior Taiga Walker dropped in a three pointer to draw the game even at 42-42, and junior LaDarius McCord followed suit less than a minute later to give the Saints a three-point lead.
It remained tight with the lead swapping several times until the 8:52 mark when Walker hit two free throws to give Marymount its largest lead of the game of four, 57-53.
They continued to maintain the advantage for several minutes before an and-one finish by the Griffins shifted the game back into their favor. It was short lived, as the next position Rogers dropped in another long ball to regain the lead. However, Gwynedd Mercy answered on the other end with a three pointer of its own for the 63-62 edge.
The lead, again, flipped both way several times down the stretch, and the Griffins built up a three-point advantage with 14 seconds remaining off two free throws by Rich Dunham.
Following a Saint timeout, Walker made his way to the free-throw line where he put in the first with ease with five seconds left. Intentionally missing the second, the Saints had hopes of the offensive rebound, but the Griffins came down with the ball and Marymount fouled immediately.
At the line on the other end, Clayton Wolfe for Gwynedd Mercy dropped in both free throws to seal the game. Walker, as the buzzer went off, registered a three pointer but it wasn't enough, as the Saints fell, 73-72.
Rogers finished with a team-high 19 points, including five three pointers, while Etienne came off the bench for 12 and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Freshman Xavier Reaves also had a double-digit performance with 10 points.
The Saints continue conference play into next week, traveling to Immaculata University on Wednesday, January 9. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.