NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Looking to rebound after a tough loss against No. 10 Franklin Pierce, the Merrimack men's basketball team returns to action on Saturday, welcoming CACC foe Concordia College in its 2012-13 home opener at Hammel Court.
The Warriors (2-1) had won both games in last weekend's Bentley Tip-Off Classic before running into trouble on the road against the 10th-ranked Ravens on Wednesday night. The Clippers (0-3) are in search of their first victory of the season after stumbling out of the gates to an 0-3 start, most recently falling to Dominican College on Nov. 14.
On Wednesday night for Merrimack, all five starters posted double-digit scoring totals for the Warriors, but that would not be enough to tame the hot shooting from the host #10 Franklin Pierce Ravens, as Merrimack received its first loss of the season, 86-69, on the road Wednesday night.
The hot-shooting Ravens were nearly unstoppable from downtown, going 9-for-13 (69.2 percent) in the first half alone before finishing the day 13-of-22 (59.1 percent) from long range. In total, Franklin Pierce registered a 50 percent shooting clip (29-58) while the Warriors finished the night 30-for-66 (.455) but went just 2-for-12 (.167) from the outside.
For the third time this season, senior forward Mike Clifford led the Warriors with 16 points, while rookie point guard Gelvis Solano tied that mark while establishing a new career best in scoring of his own. Fellow starters JT Strickland, Tyler Young, and Kevin Regan all finished in double-digits with 10, 14 and 12 points, respectively, but Franklin Pierce benefitted from a tremendous performance from its bench, as the Ravens' non-starters outscored Merrimack's reserves by a 45-1 margin.
Winless in its first three matches this season, Concordia heads to North Andover looking to snap out of its 0-3 slump at the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign. The Clippers posted a 12-15 overall record in 2011-12 while going 9-9 en route to a fourth-place finish in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference North Division.
Concordia began the season out in Albany while competing in the Saint Rose Tournament. The Clippers dropped both games of the invitational, starting with a 101-84 setback against Saint Anselm before suffering an 85-56 defeat against the host Golden Knights. Most recently, Concordia opened up conference play against rival Dominican College, a team that Merrimack had already beaten last Friday, but the Clippers could not rally back before eventually falling, 90-81, at home against the Chargers.
Four players average double figures in scoring for the Clippers, while senior forward Argelix Gil averages a double-double with 12.0 ppg and a side-high 10.3 rpg. After him, Norman Pope leads the Clippers with 14.3 ppg, while Kyle Kube (11.3) and Tshyrad Oates (11.0) also contribute double-digit scoring averages.
The Warriors and Clippers are meeting for the fourth time in the young series history, and Merrimack has gone perfect through the first three games, owning a 3-0 record against Concordia.
Most recently, the Warriors kicked off the 2010-11 season at home against the Clippers and cruised to a 14-point, 95-81 victory back on Nov. 15, 2010. Before then, Merrimack went a full 12 seasons without seeing Concordia. The Warriors posted a 100-73 victory in the Merrimack/Pepsi Invitational back on Nov. 7, 1998, as well as a 107-69 win all the way back on Nov. 20, 1994, as part of the New England Tip-Off Tournament.