SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Merrimack men's basketball team cruised to a 62-49 victory over American International Saturday afternoon at Butova Gymnasium. The Warriors rise to 9-8 overall and 6-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference with the win. The Yellow Jackets slip to 4-13 on the season and 2-11 in league action with the loss.
Wayne Mack (Paterson, NJ) poured in a game-high 19 points to go with four rebounds and two assists. Mike Clifford (Danvers, MA) posted his third double-double of the season with 17 points and a career-best 15 boards. Roland Davis (Deer Park, NY) finished the contest with 11 points, six dimes and five rebounds.
Merrimack deposited the first four points of the game to claim an early 4-0 lead. The Warriors expanded their advantage to six as Mack drained a three-pointer to push the score to 9-3 after 3:35 had elapsed.
The Yellow Jackets tallied six-straight points to tie the game at 9-9with 15:35 remaining in the first half.
Merrimack grabbed a nine-point edge with 12:02 to play until halftime as Aaron Strothers (Wareham, MA) sank a layup, 21-12.
A 10-0 run gave the home team its first lead of the day, a 22-21 gap just after the midway point of the opening period.
Davis' lay-in restored the Warriors' advantage to one just seconds later.
The two teams battled evenly for the remainder of the first half. The visitors capped off the opening 20 minutes with a five unanswered points to carry a 33-30 lead into the halftime break.
Mack keyed the Merrimack offense in the first frame as he scored 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from long distance. Clifford contributed eight points and seven boards in the opening half.
The Warriors owned a field goal percentage of 40.0% at intermission while draining 33.3% of their three-point bids. American International sank 37.5% of its shots in the first period and 42.9% of attempts from downtown.
The Yellow Jackets sank four treys in the first six minutes of the second stanza to take a 45-41 lead.
Back-to-back triples from Wilfredo Pagan (Lawrence, MA) and Davis pushed Merrimack ahead 47-46 with 11:06 left to play in the contest. The two three-pointers ignited a 17-0 stretch to increase the visitors' advantage to 12, 58-46, with 6:46 remaining.
Davis and Clifford kept the run going as the Warriors scored their 19th and 21st point in a row while also holding the home team scoreless for nearly 10 minutes. The Yellow Jackets broke the 9:34 scoring-drought with Spencer Braithwaite's layup with 2:29 showing on the clock.
Merrimack connected on 47.4% of its field goal attempts on the afternoon and 40.0% of its shots from beyond the arc. The Yellow Jackets edged the Warriors on the glass, grabbing 37 boards while the visitors hauled in 36.
Up next, Merrimack will remain on the road as it travels to Pace for a midweek tilt Wednesday, January 25.