NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Mitchell College men's basketball team dropped its home opener by an 89-84 final against SUNY Maritime College on Sunday afternoon at the Yarnall Athletic Center.
The Mariners trailed by as many as 17 in the second half before fighting their way back into the game. Mitchell whittled the margin down to two with 1:08 to play, but Maritime's Michael Walker hit a pair of shots in the final 45 seconds to keep the visitors in front.
Walker finished with 24 points to lead five Privateers in double figures. Patrick MacDonald battled foul trouble in the first half but netted 15 of his 19 points in the second stanza. John Liccese contributed 15 points and four assists while Brendan McGovern chipped in 12 points off the bench. Isaiah Hayes rounded out the Maritime stat sheet with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Hasani Williams paced Mitchell with a career-high 32 points on 14-for-18 shooting. He also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season. Brayvon Young and Steffen Brunson added 12 points apiece while Mack Bertram-Gregory dropped in 10.
Neither side led by more than five points in the opening half until an 8-0 run gave Maritime a 31-24 advantage with 5:04 remaining. Walker fueled the stretch with five points, although Mitchell answered with back-to-back buckets from Williams to stay close.
The Privateers led 37-35 at the break as Walker and Liccese combined for 20 points. MacDonald, the team's leading scorer and a preseason All-American, sat the final 10:28 of the period with two fouls and had only four points. Williams had 11 points at the intermission to lead Mitchell.
Early in the second half, Maritime scored on three straight possessions to open up a seven-point lead. Hayes got things started with a lay-up in the paint, Walker followed with a three and MacDonald capped the stretch with a lay-in to put the Privateers on top 46-39.
Maritime later went on a 16-5 run to open up its biggest lead of the game at 67-50 with 11:45 to play. Five different players scored during the spurt, with Walker and McGovern each contributing a pair of field goals.
Things looked bleak for the Mariners when Domenico Santiago fouled out with 9:50 to go and his team trailing by 16. However, Mitchell clawed its way back behind a 13-2 run over a three-minute stretch, with Williams supplying eight consecutive points in the sequence. Bertram-Gregory capped the run with a trey that pulled the Mariners to within three at 78-75 with 4:32 remaining.
A pair of free throws from Matt Finke later brought Mitchell to within two with 1:08 left. Walker then hit the first of his two big shots down the stretch, driving from the top of the key down the right side of the lane for a contested lay-up.
Mitchell cut it back to two on the ensuing possession as an offensive rebound and put-back by Williams made it 86-84 with 35 seconds to play. After a Maritime timeout, Walker once again drove the lane, but this time spun back into the paint to bury a short jumper with six ticks left on the clock. The Mariners turned the ball over on their next possession, and Liccese closed out the win from the free throw line.
The Privateers shot 58 percent for the game, including 71 percent in the second half. Walker led all players with four three-point field goals and shot 10-for-15 from the floor.
Mitchell (1-3 overall) will next play at John Jay College on Tuesday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m. Maritime (2-1 overall) returns to action at Lehman College on Monday, November 27 at 7 p.m.