Freshman guard Demi Van Der Wal sank 21 of 22 free throws in a game which the Mariners needed every point to edge the Gophers of Goucher College 68-67 in double overtime. Hitting her first 20 attempts, she tied an NCAA Division III record for most consecutive free throws made in a single game.
Van Der Wal's 21 of 22 bested the previous U.S. Merchant Marine Academy record held by Larry Jordan 86' whose mark of 17 for 19 from the charity strike in a 1985 ECAC semi-final match stood for the past 27 years.
Freshman forward Rebecca Resor helped the Mariners continually maintain possession with a team high eight rebounds and junior guard Tamara Kaileh pressured the Gophers all night with a game high four steals.
After scoring the game's first point, the Mariners fought to stay in the contest as they fell behind 11-1 in the opening minutes, eventually closing the gap to 27-25 at halftime. After trailing for the majority of the second half, a botched layup by Gopher's guard Precious Kollock with 17 seconds left in regulation left the door open for the Mariners to tie the game. Down by two, Van Der Wal nailed a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining.
On the ensuing Gopher's possession, an apparent game clock malfunction appeared to give Goucher College extra time to move the ball down the floor for a game winning shot attempt, sending Mariner's Head Coach Matt Dempsey into a frenzy. As time expired, a missed jump shot by Gopher's senior Elizabeth von Ende sent the game into overtime.
In overtime the Gophers pulled ahead once again when sophomore Sharnell Huff sank a free throw with 13 seconds remaining to give Goucher College a 59-57 lead. However, on the Mariner's next possession, with five seconds remaining, Van Der Wal hit two more clutch free throws to force double overtime.
In double overtime the Mariners took their first lead since the second half by means of another pair of Van Der Wal free throws which put the Mariners up 61-59. After suffering what appeared to be a lower body injury in an on-court collision, Van Der Wal was briefly removed from the game for the next defensive possession. She checked back in just in time to hit the game winning free throw with just under one minute remaining.
The Gophers had a chance to win with a last second jump shot, but the ball soared over the basket as time expired, giving the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy women's basketball team the victory.
After sinking her first 20 foul shot attempts, Van Der Wal's only miss came after the game was delayed due to injury when Goucher College senior Kiara Doughty appeared to suffer a severe facial laceration.
Van Der Wal finished with a career high 29 points, 7 rebounds, and accounted for all 9 of the Mariner's points in the second overtime period capping a remarkable evening for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
The Mariners earned their second Landmark Conference win of the season improving to 2-5 in conference and 5-10 overall. They travel to York College to face off against the Cardinals on Monday, January 23rd before beginning a stretch of four consecutive Landmark Conference matchups.