RINDGE, NH- The Merrimack men's basketball team suffered a 73-60 loss at Franklin Pierce to wrap up the regular season Tuesday evening. The Warriors move to 15-11 on the year and 12-10 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Ravens improve to 20-6 overall and 16-6 in league action.
Merrimack finishes the regular season in a tie for fifth-place with Southern Connecticut. The Warriors will enter the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament as the sixth-seeded team and will travel to take on third-seeded Stonehill in the quarterfinals on Sunday, February 26 at 1 p.m..
"We didn't play our best game and our defense wasn't as good as it has been in the past five games," said head coach Bert Hammel. "With the conference tournament coming up, we will work hard in practice to improve on certain things."
Senior captain Wayne Mack (Paterson, NJ) led all players with 18 points on the night to go along with five rebounds and two steals. Mike Clifford (Danvers, MA) contributed 16 points and eight boards. Aaron Strothers (Wareham, MA) finished the game with eight points while Roland Davis (Deer Park, NY) and Tyler Young (Brooklyn, NY) added seven and six, respectively.
Merrimack knotted the score at 12-12 as Clifford netted a put-back layup with 14:20 left to play. Mack gave the Warriors at 14-12 edge with a fade-away jumper from inside the three-point arc 6:42 into the first frame.
A hook shot by Strothers restored Merrimack's lead to two points, 16-14, with 11:36 remaining in the opening stanza. Wilfredo Pagan (Lawrence, MA) made a pair of free throws to extend the Warriors' advantage to four points with 11:12 on the clock, 18-14.
After the Ravens claimed a 24-19 lead, Young deposited back-to-back baskets to cut the deficit to one with seven minutes left to play in the first half. Mack nailed a jumper to tilt the lead in favor of the visitors, 25-24.
A pull-up jump shot by Mack with four minutes on the clock interrupted Franklin Pierce's 7-0 run to pull the Warriors within four, 31-27.
The Ravens led 41-29 at the break as they closed out the first half on a 10-2 run. Merrimack shot 42.9% from the floor in the first frame. The hosts connected on 53.6% of their field-goal attempts and 54.5% from downtown.
Mack paced the Warriors at halftime with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting. Clifford added five points while Strothers, Pagan and Young all headed into the second half with four points.
Davis knocked down a trey with 12:10 remaining in regulation to close the gap to 13 points, 57-44. Strothers grabbed an offensive rebound and banked in a lay-up to cut the Ravens' lead to 10, 61-51, with 9:42 left to play.
Mack buried a three-pointer from the right wing to trim the Warriors' deficit to single-digits with 9:31 on the clock, 61-54.
Franklin Pierce stretched its lead to 13 heading into the final minute of action.
Merrimack finished the contest with a field-goal percentage of 44.6% while connecting on 23.1% from behind the arc. The Ravens shot 50.0% in the game while knocking down 40.0% of their three-point bids.
For just the fifth time this season, the Warriors were outrebounded as the home team finished with a 36-32 edge in boards.