ALBANY, NY – For the third straight game, the Warriors outscored their opponents in the second half but it was not enough as Merrimack dropped a heartbreaker on the road at Saint Rose, 66-65. With the loss, Merrimack falls to 11-5 overall and 7-5 in conference action while the Golden Knights rise to 6-10 overall and 3-9 in conference.
"We came up a little short tonight but I thought we battled well defensively, particularly in the second half" stated second year head coach Monique LeBlanc. "We were a bit out of sorts on offense so that gave us trouble at times tonight. Our team showed strong character tonight and we are excited to get back on the court on Saturday.
Merrimack (11-5, 7-5 NE-10) will return to Bert Hammel Court for a conference game against American International on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
The Warriors were led offensively by senior Jaclyn Lyons (Reading, Mass.) who finished the game going 7-for-11 from the floor including 3-for-4 from behind the arc and 17 points. Starting for the third time this year, freshman Ashley Weissmann (Highland, Calif.) finished off her night with 15 points and four rebounds in a career-high 34 minutes of action. Tia Scott (New York, NY) closed out the game with a career-high 13 points including a team-high 10 points in the second half. The NE-10 leading rebounder, Kelly Schatzlein (Tolland, CT), continued to haul in the boards as she finished with 13 rebounds and eight points for the Warriors in the loss.
With a minute to play and the ball, trailing by one, Merrimack sophomore point guard Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass.) committed a crucial turnover and then fouled out of the game. After the Golden Knights made both free throws to make the score 63-60 in favor of the home team, Warriors senior captain Katie Ganser (Needham, Mass.) was fouled and she made one of two free throws to cut the score to 63-61.
After Gabie Polce gave the Golden Knights the 64-61 lead with a free throw, Weissmann was fouled and she converted on both free throws to make the score 64-63 in favor of Saint Rose with nine seconds to play. The Warriors fouled and the Golden Knights converted on both free throws making the score 66-63 with seven seconds to go.
Trailing by three with seven seconds to go, the Warriors were unable to tie the game with a three pointer as Scott converted on a layup with a second remaining and the Golden Knights were able to waste the second and take the one point victory at home, 66-65.
The Warriors started out the game in the most bizarre of ways on Wednesday night as they received a team technical foul before the clock even started. Following the Golden Knights converting on one free throw before the clock started, the Warriors opened the scoring with three straight three pointers from Lyons, Ganser and Weissmann to take the 9-7 lead just over two minutes into action.
Merrimack raced out to their biggest lead of the half, eight, 15-7 with 15:19 to play in the half but they went cold from the floor over the next six minutes as the Golden Knights went on a 15-0 run, taking the 22-15 lead.
Lyons closed the half for the Warriors draining a three pointer, making the score 36-34 in favor of the home squad. Merrimack finished the half shooting 52 percent from the floor while committing 11 turnovers and forcing 10 turnovers from the Golden Knights. Merrimack also recorded a season-high seven blocks in the first half including a career-high three from Rothman and Ganser.
The two teams opened the second half going back and forth as Lyons and Scott recorded layups for the Warriors. Just under five minutes into the second half, Weissmann sank back-to-back three pointers to give the Warriors their first lead of the half, 44-40.
With 8:50 to play in the game, the Golden Knights extended their lead to the biggest of the second half, 56-49. Merrimack responded quickly, cutting the deficit to two as Schatzlein converted on 1-of-2 from the free throw line and then down to one minutes later as Lyons drilled an open three pointer.
The Warriors were unable to score over the next two minutes until Ganser sank a free throw with 34 seconds to play. Scott finished the scoring for the Warriors, making a layup with one second to play.
For the game, Merrimack shot 42 percent from the floor and finished 7-for-19 from behind the arc in the loss. The Warriors also committed 20 turnovers while only forcing 18 from the home team and they were outrebounded 37-36 for the game.
Ganser finished off her night with seven points to go along with five rebounds and three blocked shots in the loss.
The Golden Knights had three players score in double figures as Polce led the way with 17 points on 5-11 from the floor while Desiree Simmons finished off her night with 14 points, three steals and two rebounds. Mariah Lesure finished with 13 points and Jessica Walton racked up a team-high 10 rebounds and six points.