NORTH ANDOVER, MA – The Merrimack women's basketball team got back on track with a dominating 63-45 victory over the visiting Saint Michael's Purple Knights on Tuesday night at Bert Hammel Court behind a career-high 13 points off the bench from sophomore Melissa Miller (North Andover, Mass.). Miller also grabbed seven rebounds in the win.
Merrimack (5-2, 3-2 NE-10) will stay at home for another conference clash with Southern New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon. Tip is set for 12 p.m. The Merrimack Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will also be hosting a Toy Drive for the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club during the game. Fans will receive free admission for bringing in a new, unwrapped toy for donation to the game.
Before the game, head coach Monique LeBlanc presented senior Kelly Schatzlein with her 1,000th point ball. Schatzlein entered the 1,000 point club on Saturday against UMass Lowell on her fifth point of the game, becoming only the 18th member in program history.
The Merrimack bench led the way offensively all night as Miller recorded a season-high 13 points and freshman Ashley Weissmann (Highland, Calif.) finished with eight points and a career-high seven rebounds in 19 minutes of action. Senior captain Kelly Schatzlein (Tolland, CT) wound up one point shy of her third straight double-double of she finished with nine points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three steals in the win. Sophomore point guard Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass.) played a team-high 32 minutes and finished the game with five points, five rebounds and a game-high eight assists.
The turning point in the game came midway through the opening half as the Warriors used a 16-0 run to pull ahead of the Purple Knights. The streak started as Schatzlein made a free throw which was followed up with a three point play from fellow senior Jaclyn Lyons (Reading, Mass.), making the score 16-14 in favor of the Warriors.
Over the next five minutes the Warriors scored 13 points to take the commanding 29-14 lead. Shelby Secor (Antioch, Calif.) made back-to-back shots and Rothman drilled a three pointer to give Merrimack the dominating lead.
The Purple Knights closed out the opening half on a 8-0 run to cut their halftime deficit to seven, 29-22. Merrimack shot 35 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes while Saint Mike's shot 28 percent.
Senior Katie Ganser (Needham, Mass.) opened the second half with a deep three pointer to push Merrimack's lead to 10. After a three from the Purple Knights, Weissmann responded with back-to-back buckets off of Rothman dishes to increase the Warriors lead to 14 with 15 minutes to play.
Saint Mike's tried making a late run and get back in the game but the Warriors only allowed them to come within seven with just under 10 minutes to play. Over the final nine minutes of the game, Merrimack dominated as they grabbed their biggest lead of the game, 20, with 57 seconds remaining after a layup from freshman Madison Ward (Binghamton, NY) and assists from fellow freshman Tia Scott (New York, NY).
For the game, Merrimack shot 36.8 percent from the floor and held Saint Mike's to 29.2 percent while forcing 25 turnovers from the Purple Knights. The Warriors outscored their opponents 34-16 in points in the paint for the game and in bench scoring 28-9.
The Warriors stingy defense turned 25 turnovers into 22 points while the Purple Knights were held to four points off of Merrimack turnovers.
The Purple Knights were led on the night by Megan Olsen who finished with a team-high 12 points and two rebounds. Leading scorer Nicole Adach was held to 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks on 4-7 from the floor.