Links: Box Score
MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Merrimack College men's basketball team held a six-point lead with 8:56 remaining in Saturday afternoon's contest between the Warriors and Southern New Hampshire, but the Penmen ended the game on a 32-16 run to dispatch the Navy and Gold, 89-79, from the SNHU Fieldhouse in Northeast-10 Conference play.
Score: SNHU 89, Merrimack 79
Records: Merrimack (17-8, 11-7 NE10) | SNHU (17-6, 13-5 NE10)
Location: SNHU Fieldhouse | Manchester, N.H.
The Turning Point:
Over the final 8:56 of the game, the Penmen scored 32 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. Over a two-minute stretch beginning with 4:34 to play, the hosts did not miss a shot to turn a 68-65 game into an 81-73 advantage. Five different Penmen scored during the 16-point stretch, including eight points from Chris Walters.
NE10 Postseason Outlook:
The top-five teams in the Northeast Division advance to the NE10 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 three games remaining, two of which are at home.
1) SNHU (13-5)
2) Merrimack (11-7)
3) Saint Anselm (11-7)
4) Franklin Pierce (10-8)
5) Stonehill (9-9)
6) Bentley (8-10)
7) Saint Michael's (4-14)
8) Assumption (4-14)
How It Happened (First Half)
- Sophomore Ryan Boulter (Mansfield, Mass.) got Merrimack off to a roaring start, hitting his first three shots to give the Warriors an 8-2 lead just 2:30 into the game. From there, however, the Penmen went on a 19-7 run up through the 12:20 mark to take a 21-15 advantage
- The Penmen's lead grew to as many as nine, 30-21, following a layup from Devin Gilligan. The Warriors punched back with a 12-4 run over the next seven minutes that featured four points each from freshmen Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, N.J.) and Jaleel Lord (Jersey City, N.J.). The deficit dropped down to one, 34-33, with just two minutes left in the half
- Devin Gilligan connected from long distance to turn a one-point Penmen lead into a 39-35 game with one minute remaining. Gilligan tacked on two late free throws to give the hosts a 41-35 lead heading to the locker room
How It Happened (Second Half)
- The first 4:23 of the second stanza featured four three-point plays, two for each side. Boulter and Hayes each converted opportunities for the Warriors, but the under-16 media timeout came and went with the Penmen maintaining a 53-48 lead
- Graduate forward Anthony Barry (Uxbridge, Mass.) crashed the offensive glass with 11:49 remaining to tie the game at 56-all. That shot started a 9-1 Merrimack run that featured a triple from Boulter, a lay-in for Barry and a pull-up jumper from sophomore Troy McLaughlin (Old Tappan, N.J.). The Penmen quickly answered with five unanswered to pull within one, 63-62, with eight minutes to play
- After a bucket from senior Riley Calzonetti (Neptune City, N.J.) put the Warriors back up three, the Penmen embarked on a 9-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Dimitri Floras to take a 71-65 lead with 4:22 remaining
- Beginning with a Gilligan triple at the 4:07 mark, each team exchanged 3-pointers over the next four total possessions. McLaughlin and junior Kyle Howes (Maynard, Mass.) made shots for the Warriors while Charlie Russo cashed in the other trey for the hosts. After the run of long-distance makes, SNHU held a 77-73 lead with 3:16 to play
- The Penmen outscored the Warriors by six over the final three minutes to come up with the 10-point margin of victory. Walters and Gilligan combined to eight all eight of the team's free-throw attempts over the final 83 seconds
Inside The Numbers
- The Penmen dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Navy and Gold 48-27. The 21-board advantage led to a 24-8 disparity in second-chance points in favor of SNHU. Walters led all players with 26 points and 14 caroms
- Hayes garnered his 11th double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 assists, increasing his season total to 235. That mark passes the career high of two-time All-American Darren Duncan '10, who finished his junior season with 230 - the most for a Warrior in the last 16 years. Hayes also collected a season-high seven steals, increased on his NE10 lead in thefts
- Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by 19 from Boulter. Merrimack's sharpshooter led all players with four 3-pointers, finishing the day 4-of-8 from beyond the arc
- McLaughlin came on strong in the second half, collecting 14 of his 18 points over the final 20 minutes. The performance marked his highest scoring output since a 19-point game against Le Moyne on Jan. 14
- The free-throw line proved to be a deciding factor as well, with the Penmen making 29 trips to the charity stripe compared to 11 for the Warriors
The Warriors host Assumption on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Merrimack's penultimate home game at Hammel Court.