Defense key as Merrimack outlasts Saint Michael’s, 71-64
COLCHESTER, Vt. – The Merrimack College men’s basketball program held junior guard Levi Holmes III – the nation’s third leading scorer – to a season-low 10 points, saw four Warriors score in double figures and defeated Saint Michael’s College, 71-64, in Northeast-10 Conference action on Saturday afternoon from the Ross Sports Center.
Score: Merrimack 71, Saint Michael’s 64
Records: Merrimack (8-3, 5-1 NE10) | Saint Michael’s (1-8, 1-6 NE10)
Location: Ross Sports Center | Colchester, Vt.
- In a game that featured 14 lead changes and seven ties, the Warriors broke away from Saint Michael’s in the early portions of the second half
- Facing a 35-34 deficit with 16:24 left in the game, the Warriors went on a 16-5 run that spanned the next 7:06 of game action, going ahead by 10, 60-50. Merrimack’s lead never dipped below six over the remainder of the game
- Defensively, Merrimack held Saint Michael’s to 2-of-9 shooting during the 16-5 stretch, forcing the Purple Knights into three turnovers
- Neither team led by more than five points in the opening half. The back-and-forth opening stanza was tied at 11-11 through eight minutes, following a three-pointer by freshman Khalief Crawford (Linden, N.J.)
- That make started Merrimack’s best stretch of the half, going on an 8-0 run that featured a triple for sophomore Devon Moore (Hanover, Pa.) and a jumper from sophomore Idris Joyner (Plainfield, N.J.). The Warriors led 16-11 after Joyner’s bucket at the 9:45 mark. Saint Michael’s, however, answered with six unanswered points over the next two minutes, moving ahead 17-16.
- That was the first of seven lead changes and two ties over the final 7:59 of the opening stanza. Saint Michael’s held a 29-27 lead, leaving Merrimack with the last possession of the half, which sophomore Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, N.J.) used to his advantage, tying the game at 29-all with a layup
- Joyner converted a three-point play to start the second half, staking Merrimack to a 32-29 lead. With 16:52 to play, Saint Michael’s took a brief 35-34 lead, but the Warriors embarked on a 16-5 run that last until the 9:18 mark to build a 50-40 advantage
- Within that run was Joyner’s sixth field goal on his sixth attempt, while Hayes netted six consecutive points over a 90-second span, including a uncontested dunk
- Saint Michael’s climbed within six, but sophomore Jaleel Lord (Jersey City, N.J.) sank his first three-pointer of the day to increase the Warriors’ lead to 53-44 with 7:32 remaining. Two minutes later, Moore scored five unanswered points to push Merrimack’s lead to double figures, 63-52, with 4:11 left
- The final four minutes saw senior Kyle Howes (Maynard, Mass.) convert a three-point play and Crawford connect on a left-wing trey to prevent a Saint Michael’s comeback
Notes and Notables
- Among the Warriors’ four double-figure scorers, Joyner netted a season-best 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Merrimack’s starting forward hit his first six shot attempts of the day, setting a new career high in field goals
- Moore played a season-high 20 minutes off the bench, reaching double figures for the first time with 11 points. He made two three-pointers after entering the day with two through nine games
- In addition to leading the team with 14 points, Hayes set a season high with six steals. He has at least five thefts in five games this season, leaving Saturday as the nation’s leader in steals with 41 over 11 games
- Holmes III entered Saturday with at least 20 points in eight of nine games to start the year. Merrimack held him to season lows in points (10), field goals (3) and field-goal attempts (10)
With only one divisional game left before their break for finals the Warriors host Bentley University at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening from Hammel Court.