The Merrimack women's basketball team will hit the road for only their fourth Conference semifinal game in school history on Thursday when they travel to take on the Assumption Greyhounds at 7:00 pm. The Warriors used two straight come-from-behind victories to advance on to the semifinal round. Assumption enters the contest after defeating the #6 New Haven Chargers by the score of 80-66 on Sunday.
The Warriors have won five straight contests including two straight upset victories in the NE-10 Conference Tournament. The Warriors are led by their senior captain Kelly Schatzlein who ranks second in the NE-10 in rebounding averaging 10.6 rebounds per contest after finishing the Warriors last game with 11 rebounds, eight points and seven blocks. Schatzlein also is averaging 11.7 points per contest for the Warriors while sophomore point guard Chloe Rothman has flourished off the bench, averaging a team-high 12.3 points to go along with 4.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds a game. Senior Jaclyn Lyons has been the most consistent Warrior all season long as she is averaging a career-high 9.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while fellow senior Katie Ganser is averaging 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, starting all 28 games. Freshman Tia Scott has taken over the point guard duties for the Warriors and has done an excellent job as she is averaging 5.6 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game while starting the last nine games. Newcomer Shelby Secor has started all 25 games she has appeared in and is averaging 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
ABOUT THE COMPETITION:
The Greyhounds are led offensively by Gabrielle Gibson who is averaging 17.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest. Katy Howard is second on the team averaging 11.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds while fellow starter Sabrina Siciliano is shooting 47 percent from the floor while scoring 10.9 points and grabbing 6.1 rebounds per game.
The Warriors are 21-34 all-time against Assumption including losing their only meeting this year by the score of 86-62.
LAST GAME (MERRIMACK 77 - STONEHILL 72):
The Merrimack women's basketball team came-from-behind for their second straight upset victory in the NE-10 Conference Tournament on Sunday afternoon, downing the #11 Stonehill Skyhawks by the score of 77-72. The win over Stonehill marked the first time the Warriors defeated a ranked opponent since a 71-64 victory over #1 Franklin Pierce on February 17, 2010. The Warriors trailed by four at halftime before hitting eight second half three pointers, three of which by Allison Wagner, to move on to the semifinals. Chloe Rothman came off the bench for the Warriors and scored 23 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds while Wagner scored 13 points off the bench, all in the second half. Senior Kelly Schatzlein led the defense effort as she finished with a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with a career-high seven blocks and eight points.
12-WIN IMPROVEMENT FROM 2011-12 LEADS NATION:
In only the second year under head coach Monique LeBlanc, the Warriors qualified for the NE-10 semifinals, marking only the fourth time in school history. LeBlanc's Warriors have the greatest win improvement from last season as they have 12 more wins than they did last year. The Warriors finished LeBlanc's first season with a 5-21 record and this year Merrimack currently sits at 17-11. Two other schools in all division II women's basketball have the same win improvement of 12, Concordia St. Paul and Fayettville State University. A 13-win improvement will give the Warriors a top-10 turnaround in the history of Division II womens basketball.
CURRENTLY RIDING SEASON-LONG FIVE GAME WINNING STREAK:
Merrimack is currently riding their longest winning streak of the season, five straight. The Warriors closed out the regular season with three straight wins in order to qualify for the NE-10 Tournament as a #10 seed and they have compiled two upset victories so far in the Tournament. Merrimack has had one four game winning streak on the season and two three game winning streaks including starting the season off with three straight wins by an average of 17.7 points per contest.
SECOND HALF THREE POINT ATTACK MOVE WARRIORS ON:
The Warriors went 8-for-14 on their second half three point attempts in the win on Sunday, marking the most three pointers made in a half all season long. Chloe Rothman finished the half going 3-for-3 while Allison Wagner finished 3-for-6. The 10 three pointers against Stonehill is the most in a game for Merrimack since December 19, 2012 when the Warriors hit 11 vs. St. Thomas Aquinas.
ROTHMAN LEADS WAY WITH 23 POINTS:
After hitting the game-tying jump shot to force overtime in the Warriors opening round victory over the Pace Setters, Chloe Rothman stayed hot for the Warriors as she scored a game-high 23 points. Rothman ended the first half with 12 points after hitting a shot to beat the buzzer to cut the Warriors halftime deficit down to four. Rothman stayed hot in the second half for the Warriors as she scored 11 more points as she went 4-for-5 from the floor including 3-for-3 from three point range while also dishing off three assists and grabbing two rebounds in 14 minutes of action.
WARRIORS BENCH SCORES SEASON-HIGH 49 POINTS:
Bench play has been a major strength of the Warriors all season long as Merrimack holds a 14-6 record when their bench outscores their opponents. In Sunday's win over Stonehill, the Warriors scored a season-high 49 bench points. Chloe Rothman led all players with 23 points while Allison Wagner scored 13 second half bench points. Freshman Ashley Weissmann came off the bench and scored six second half points including the game-winning three pointer with less than a minute to play in the game.
SCHATZLEIN DOMINATES ON DEFENSIVE SIDE OF THE COURT:
Senior Kelly Schatzlein led the Warriors defensive effort all night as she finished with a career-high seven blocks in the Warriors upset victory over Stonehill. Schatzlein also recorded 11 rebounds including seven defensive boards. The 10 team blocks is the most in a game since the Warriors recorded 10 blocks against Saint Michael's on December 6, 2011. Schatzlein currently ranks sixth on the Warriors all-time scoring list and second on the rebounding list. If she can rack up 51 more rebounds this season, she will be only the second Warrior ever to rack up 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career points.
FRESHMAN DUO LEAD WARRIORS PRESSURE DEFENSE:
The freshman duo of Ashley Weissmann and Tia Scott have led the Warriors defense all season long as they are holding their opponents to 64.6 points per contest. Weissmann alos leads the team with 41 steals while Scott ranks third on the squad with 37 steals on the season.
LEADING LATE LEADS TO VICTORIES:
The Warriors have proven to be able to hold onto leads late in games as they hold a 13-0 record when leading with five minutes to play in the game. The Warriors also have compiled a 15-0 record when leading with one minute to play in regulation. The young Warriors have been pulling out close victories by taking care of the ball late and by making clutch free throws.
TIGHT GAME SUCCESS FOR YOUNG WARRIORS:
Merrimack has had some success in close games this year despite having only three seniors on their current roster. The Warriors are 7-2 in games decided by five points or less including winning five games by three points or less.
60 POINTS OR LESS IS KEY TO VICTORY:
The Warriors defense has led them to their 17 win season as they rank in the top-10 in nearly all defensive team categories. The Warriors rank third in the conference in blocks per game behind Kelly Schatzlein's 1.8 blocks. The Warriors have held their opponents to less than 60 points in nine games this season and hold a 9-0 record in those games.
TURNOVERS DECIDE GAMES:
When the Warriors turn the ball over less than their opponents they usually win. Merrimack holds a 10-1 record when they committ less turnovers than their opponents this season. For the season the Warriors are forcing 1.0 more turnovers a game than their opponents.
GETTING ON THE GLASS KEY TO SUCCESS:
A major key to the Warirors success this season has been grabbing more rebounds than their opponents as the Warriors hold a 11-2 record when they out-rebound their foes.
HALFWAY THERE:The Warriors have led at half in exactly half of their games this season and they hold a 11-3 record when they take the lead into the locker room.
SCHATZLEIN EARNS THIRD TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE:
Senior Kelly Schatzlein finished the regular season as one of only three players in the Northeast-10 to average a double-double with 11.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per contest. For the season, Schatzlein ranks 12th in the nation in rebounds per contest (10.6) and 18th in double-doubles (12). She currently ranks sixth on the Warriors all-time scoring list and second on the rebounding list. If she can rack up 62 more rebounds this season, she will be only the second Warrior ever to rack up 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career points.