NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Looking for its first road win of the season, the Merrimack men's basketball team rounds out a two-game stretch away from home with a trip out to Albany to face Saint Rose on Wednesday night.
The Warriors have gone 2-3 in January, but that span has included three road losses to NE-10 teams. Merrimack has yet to win back-to-back games in 2013.
The Golden Knights recently snapped a five-game losing streak with an important conference win at home against Bentley on Saturday. Saint Rose sits in a five-way tie for eighth place in the NE-10 standings.
Merrimack and Saint Rose will be playing for the 23rd time in program history. The all-time series has gone as close to even as it could get, as both schools own an 11-11 record against one another. Merrimack, however, has won four of the past five showdowns.
The all-time series is relatively young compared to a few other conference schools. Merrimack and Saint Rose first played back in the 1991-92 season, when the Golden Knights earned a 77-70 overtime victory at home back on Dec. 29, 1991. Last year, the Warriors won the only matchup, a 63-56 home victory on Jan. 17, 2012.
Heading into Wednesday night with a record of 8-7 but just 5-6 in NE-10 action, Saint Rose recently snapped a five-game losing streak with an important 74-67 victory at home against Bentley. The Golden Knights now sit in a five-way tie for eighth place in the NE-10 standings. Saint Rose owns a 5-3 record at home compared to a 2-3 record on the road.
In that game against the Falcons, junior Dominykas Milka recorded 21 points - including a career-high eight assists and eight rebounds to lead the Golden Knights, while classmate Dan Mundweiler added five triples en route to 17 points.
On the season, three players average double-digits in scoring, while four average more than nine per game. Leading the charge his Milka, whose 17.3 ppg mark is fifth best in the conference. Milka also leads the league in rebounding (11.5 rpg), while his 17 blocks are the 11th most, as well.
Behind him, senior guard Andre Pope ranks second in scoring (13.5 ppg) while averaging a team-best 3.1 apg. Pope is one of the team's top 3-point shooters (38.9 percent), while his 86.4 percent conversion rate from the stripe is fourth best in the league. Finally, freshman Tyler Sayre has also averaged double figures in scoring. The rookie forward has chipped in 10.3 ppg while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.
As a team, the Golden Knights are a middle-of-the-road squad in nearly every category. Their 67.9 ppg ranks seventh in the league, while their 65.4 ppg allowed ranks eighth. Their field goal percentage (43.7) ranks eighth, while their defensive field goal percentage (42.7) is fifth worst in the league. Saint Rose is a top-four squad when it comes to rebounding margin, however, ranking fourth in the league (+1.3).
Last time Merrimack hit the hardwood, Kevin Regan poured in a career-high 19 points while the team overall posted an impressive 50 percent shooting clip from the floor, but the Navy and Gold could not recover from a game-deciding second-half run from host Southern Connecticut, as the Owls handed the Warriors a 73-69 setback on Saturday afternoon at Moore Field House.
The loss came despite Merrimack finishing 28-for-56 (50.0) from the floor, as well as 5-for-15 (33.3) from long range. The Warriors did, however, post only a 50 percent conversion rate (8-for-16) from the free throw line, while four players finished in double figures.
Regan led the team in scoring for the second straight outing, besting his previous career high by two, finishing with 19 points on a 7-for-10 shooting clip. The Philadelphian also tied his personal best in rebounding (9) and went 4-for-6 from the stripe.
Behind him, freshman Gelvis Solano (New York, N.Y.) added 18 points while going 4-for-8 from downtown and 7-for-13 overall. The rookie came away with four steals, tying a career high, and chipped in three boards. Senior Mike Clifford finished in double figures by means of his 12-point afternoon, as the forward went 5-for-8 from the floor and added five rebounds. Finally, freshman Troy Hammel contributed 10 points off the bench, hitting 4-of-5 while converting both chances from the charity stripe.
After both teams entered the break tied at 32-32, the hosts went in front by 16 points (67-51) with just 3:50 to go. Merrimack mounted a furious late charge, closing out the contest by scoring 18 of the final 26 points, but it would be too little, too late for the visitors, as the Warriors fell to 0-5 on the road this season.