NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College men's basketball team built a 16-point halftime lead on Tuesday evening against the Stonehill College Skyhawks from Hammel Court, but the visitors used a 25-8 run over the first seven-plus minutes of the second stanza to snatch the lead away from the Warriors and never looked back, defeating the Navy and Gold by an 85-77 final.
Score: Stonehill 85, Merrimack 77
Records: Merrimack (17-7, 11-6 NE10) | Stonehill (13-10, 8-9 NE10)
Location: Hammel Court | North Andover, Mass.
The Turning Point:
The Skyhawks made 10-of-13 from the field to start the second half, including a stretch of four straight makes, to offset a 30-point first half. The Skyhawks put up 55 in the second stanza, with 25 of those points coming in the first 7:20 of the final 20 minutes. Six different Skyhawks scored during the run led by 10 points from Ryan Logan who finished with a team-high 18 on the evening.
NE-10 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 four games remaining, two of which are at home.
1) SNHU (12-4)
2) Merrimack (11-6)
3) Saint Anselm (10-7)
4) Franklin Pierce (8-8)
5) Stonehill (8-9)
6) Bentley (7-9)
7) Saint Michael's (4-12)
8) Assumption (4-13)
How It Happened (First Half)
- Over the first seven minutes of the game, the visitors built a 15-9 lead. Three different Skyhawks connected on 3-pointers as Stonehill came into the game averaging over 100 points per game of its last three contests
- The Warriors used an 8-0 run over the next 2:45 to take the lead, 17-15. Redshirt-junior Tawayne Anderson Jr. (Garden City, N.Y.) and graduate forward Anthony Barry (Uxbridge, Mass.) hit consecutive layups to give the Warriors the lead. Two minutes later and after Stonehill took a brief lead, sophomore Ryan Boulter (Mansfield, Mass.) swished a 3-pointer to make it a 22-20 Warriors advantage with 8:59 left in the half
- The make started a 10-0 Merrimack run, during which the Warriors kept the Skyhawks off the scoreboard until there was 5:44 left in the half. Senior Riley Calzonetti (Neptune City, N.J.) and junior Kyle Howes (Maynard, Mass.) combined for five of the 10 points
- With the score at 31-25 and 3:33 remaining in the half, the Navy and Gold ended the opening stanza on a 15-5 spurt. Boulter collected the first five points, Howes converted an and-one opportunity and Calzonetti ended the half with the Warriors' final four points
How It Happened (Second Half)
- The Skyhawks started the second half on a 25-8 run spanning the first seven-plus minutes to take a 55-54 lead. Stonehill caught fire from beyond the arc, making three straight triples at one point. KJ Lee's put back with 12:40 on the clock made it a one-lead for the visitors.
- After that possession, freshman Jaleel Lord (Jersey City, N.J.) swished a right-wing trey in front of the Warriors' bench to put Merrimack back in front and prompt a timeout
- From there the Skyhawks continued their streaky play, rattling off 10 unanswered points. Howes answered the run with a coast-to-coast drive, but the stretch allowed Stonehill to build a 65-59 lead with 7:30 remaining
- Over the next four minutes, Stonehill's lead never grew larger than eight, but never dipped below four. Logan hit a mid-range jumper with 3:42 remaining to make it a six-point game at 73-67
- Following two free throws from sophomore Troy McLaughlin (Old Tappan, N.J.), Isaiah Bess sank a 3-pointer from the left corner with the shot clock winding down. Lord responded immediately on the other end with a trey of his own with 1:32 left
- The deficit never dipped below five over the final 92 seconds. The Warriors had a chance at a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to make it a one-possession game, but the shot missed and the Skyhawks tacked on two free throws from there for the 85-77 final
Inside The Numbers
- Boulter led all scorers with 25 points, making 9-of-18 from the field overall and 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. It marked his 11th game this season with at least 20 points
- Hayes dished out 10 assists to go along with eight rebounds and six points. He now has 225 total assists on the year, increasing his nationwide lead, and he is now tied for 16th in NE10 history in single-season helpers
- In the second half, the Skyhawks shot 60 percent from the field (18-30). Six of the visitors' 10 triples came over the final 20 minutes
- Four of Stonehill's five starters scored in double figures led by 18 points from Logan and Daniel Largey. The Skyhawks' starting five accounted for 49 of their 55 second-half points
- Calzonetti and Lord combined for 16 points off the bench, as the Warriors' reserves outscored Stonehill's, 18-13
The Warriors travel to Southern New Hampshire on Saturday for a 4 p.m. contest against the Penmen. The contest will be broadcast nationally on NESNplus and NESN National.