Bears Win 5th Straight; Rally to Beat Merchant Marine in OT

Packy Witkowski
Packy Witkowski

NEW LONDON, Conn. – Sophomore Packy Witkowski had a game-high 25 points including a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in overtime leading Coast Guard to its fifth straight win, a thrilling come-from-behind 93-88 overtime victory over archrival Merchant Marine.

Coast Guard would score the first six of the second half to push the lead to 52-41 on a layup by sophomore Justin Kane with 18:36 left in the second half. The Bears led 64-58 with 9:51 left before the Mariners used an 11-3 run to take a 69-67 lead on a trey by sophomore Eric Sobocinski with 6:38 left.

The Bears would tie the game 69-69 on a layup by sophomore Noah Baldez before the Mariners used an 8-2 run to take their largest lead of the game 77-71 with 3:55 left.

Coast Guard would score eight straight, including pair of 3-pointers by Witkowski, including one that gave the Bears a 79-77 lead with 1:24 left.

Merchant Marine senior George Hatzionannides sank a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to tie the game at 79-79 and send it to overtime.

In the extra period, the Bears were a perfect 5 for 5 from the floor and scored the first six points of the overtime. As Kane had an old fashion 3-point play before Witkowski hit a trey with 3:41 left for an 85-79 lead.

Junior David Washington's tip-in with 46 seconds left pulled the Mariners to within 89-88 before Witkowski put the nail in the coffin with his 3-pointer with 21 seconds left.

Witkowski hit 7 of 13 from 3-point range. Kane finished with his second consecutive double-double as he scored 21 points to go with 11 rebounds and Baldez registered his first career double-double finishing with career-highs of 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Baldez had 15 points and seven rebounds in the second half and overtime.

Junior Bryce Schroeder added 11 points as the Bears improved to 5-1 on the season while Merchant Marine dropped to 2-2.

Freshman James Walsh had a team-high 20 points off the bench for the Mariners as he connected on 6 of 12 from 3-point range. Sophomore Eric Sobocinski (15), freshman Seth Barnes (14), Washington (13) and Hatzionannides (10) all scored in double figures for Merchant Marine. Washington had a team-high nine rebounds.

Coast Guard shot 48.6 percent from the floor (36-74) including 10 of 25 from 3-point range in the win while the Mariners were 33 of 69 (47.8 percent) while making 14 of 33 from behind the arc.

The Bears held a huge advantage on the boards as the outrebounded Merchant Marine 50-29 including 19 offensive rebounds.  Merchant Marine had just nine rebounds in the first half while the Bears had 22 in the opening half.

The Bears got off to a fast start jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the first three minutes as Witkowski knocked down a pair of treys. The Mariners would cut the deficit to 36-35 on a 3-pointer by Walsh with 2:56 left in the first half, but Coast Guard led 46-41 at the break.

With the win, the Bears take a 4-2 lead in the race for the Superintendent's Trophy against the Mariners this season.

The Bears break for final exams and are back in action on Dec. 16th when they host Mitchell at noon.