COLCHESTER, Vt. – The Merrimack College men's basketball team took a 15-point lead into the second half on Wednesday night at Saint Michael's and never trailed despite the Purple Knights' comeback efforts to prevail, 64-60, from the Ross Sports Center in Northeast-10 Conference play. The victory improved Merrimack's record to 16-6 on the year, equaling the most wins for the program in seven years.
Score: Merrimack 64, Saint Michael's 60
Records: Merrimack (16-6, 10-5 NE10) | Saint Michael's (4-16, 3-12 NE10)
Location: Ross Sports Center | Colchester, Vt.
The Turning Point:
Starting at the 13:31 mark of the opening half, the Warriors used an 18-2 run – the most lopsided portion of the game - to build a 28-11 lead and never looked back from Colchester. The stretch lasted over seven minutes and featured five different scorers including nine combined points from redshirt-junior Tawayne Anderson Jr. (Garden City, N.Y.) and freshman Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, N.J.).
NE10 Postseason Outlook:
The top-five teams in the Northeast Division advance to the NE-10 Championship, with the fifth seed playing the fourth seed out of the Southwest in the opening round on Friday, Feb. 24. The top-three finishers have a bye until the quarterfinals on Sunday, Feb. 26. The Warriors have six games remaining, four of which are at home.
1) SNHU (12-3)
2) Merrimack (10-5)
3) Saint Anselm (9-6)
t4) Franklin Pierce (7-8)
t4) Stonehill (7-8)
6) Bentley (6-9)
7) Assumption (4-11)
8) Saint Michael's (3-12)
How It Happened (First Half)
- With the game tied at six-all early on, the Warriors used a 7-3 spurt to build a four-point lead at the 12:56 mark. Freshman Devon Moore (Hanover, Pa.) ended the stretch with a right-wing triple, which left his hand just before the shot clock expired
- The Warriors advantage sat at five, 16-11, with 11:15 remaining but the Navy and Gold embarked on a 12-0 run, during which the Purple Knights were held scoreless over a span of nearly six minutes. Four Warriors scored during the run, including an old-fashioned three-point play from Hayes
- Six unanswered points from the hosts cut Merrimack's lead down to 11, but sophomore Ryan Boulter (Mansfield, Mass.) slipped off a screen with 3:05 left and drained a straightaway 3-point to increase the lead to 14, 31-17. As the clock wound down and the Purple Knights within 12, junior Kyle Howes (Maynard, Mass.) took a handoff from Hayes and connected on a straightaway trey as the buzzer sounded to give Merrimack a 38-23 lead after 20 minutes
How It Happened (Second Half)
- The Purple Knights came out strong in the second half, scoring the first seven points of the stanza and using a 9-4 run overall to make it a 42-32 game after four minutes had expired. At the 14:34 and the difference still at 10 points, graduate forward Anthony Barry (Uxbridge, Mass.) drilled a straightaway three that prompted a Warriors timeout with the score at 47-34
- Over the next five minutes, the Purple Knights used a 9-3 spurt to transform the deficit down to single digits, 50-43, with 9:30 to play in regulation. Ninety seconds later Levi Holmes III sank a left-wing triple to dip the deficit to the slimmest since the 11-minute mark of the opening half at 50-46
- Barry was the recipient of two feeds from sophomore Troy McLaughlin (Old Tappan, N.J.) and Hayes to bank in tow uncontested lay-ins and half the Purple Knights' run. Holmes III and freshman Jaleel Lord (Jersey City, N.J.) proceeded to sink 3-pointers at opposite ends of the floor, as Merrimack led by seven, 57-50, with five minutes to play
- After the Purple Knights briefly made it a one-possession game, 57-54, Lord connected on a mid-range jumper approaching the 3:00 mark. Matt Bonds – the third leading scorer in the NE10 – responded with a driving finger roll to make it a 59-56 game with 2:37 left. Howes' lay-win with under 90 seconds to play was answered by a Saint Michael's bucket on the other end, leaving the Warriors with a 63-60 lead with 35.4 seconds left
- The Merrimack defense stepped up, forcing the Purple Knights into a shot-clock violation. Hayes collected the ensuing inbound, made 1-of-2 free throws and salted the game away for the Navy and Gold
Inside The Numbers
- Merrimack's first-half effort created enough distance between the Warriors and Purple Knights to prevent a lead change. The Warriors shot 50 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, and defensively they limited Saint Michael's to 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. The Warriors outrebounded their hosts by 10, 23-13
- Barry led the Warriors in scoring, collecting 15 points to score in double figures for the 21st time over 22 games this year. He came off the bench for the first time this year, as senior captain Riley Calzonetti (Neptune City, N.Y.) made her first-ever start
- Hayes finished one assist shy of his 10th double-double of the year, dishing out nine helpers to go along with 11 points and five rebounds
- Merrimack's 16th win of the season matches the total from two years ago, the last time the program made the NE10 Championship. With one more victory the Warriors will have the most wins since back-to-back 21-win seasons from 2008-10
The Warriors host Saint Anselm on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Hammel Court. The contest will be celebrated as Alumni Day, and all interested alumni of the program are asked to register, free of charge, at the following link.