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Merrimack Men’s Basketball Tops No. 13 Bridgeport to Advance in NCAA Tournament

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Behind a career-high 16 points and 10 rebounds for sophomore Idris Joyner and a near triple-double for sophomore Juvaris Hayes, the sixth-seeded Merrimack College men’s basketball program upset the third-seeded and No. 13/18 Bridgeport, 85-70, on Saturday afternoon in the regional quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship from Ted Grant Court. The Warriors advance to the regional semifinals, where Merrimack awaits the winner of No. 2 Saint Thomas Aquinas and No. 7 Bloomfield.

Video: Press Conference // Team Celebration

The Basics
Score: Merrimack 85, #13/18 Bridgeport 70
Records: Merrimack (20-11) | #13/18 Bridgeport (25-6)
Location: Ted Grant Court | Syracuse, N.Y.

NCAA East Regional Schedule:
March 10 – Quarterfinal games
12 p.m.            Game No. 1. – Merrimack def. Bridgeport, 85-70
2:30 p.m.         Game No. 2 – Bloomfield vs. St. Thomas Aquinas
5 p.m.              Game No. 3 – Jefferson vs. Le Moyne
7:30 p.m.         Game No. 4 – Saint Rose vs. Saint Anselm

March 11 – Regional Semifinals
5 p.m.              Game No. 5. – Merrimack vs. #2 STAC/#7 Bloomfield
7:30 p.m.         Game No. 6. (Winner Game No. 3 vs. Winner Game No. 4)

March 13 – Regional Championship Game
7 p.m.              Game No. 7. (Winner Game No. 5 vs. Winner Game No. 6)

Marquee Moments:

  • Merrimack saw its 14-point advantage, 60-46, dwindle down to seven with 7:24 remaining after Bridgeport used a 14-7 run that lasted nearly five minutes
  • The Warriors responded by holding Bridgeport scoreless over the next 4:42 of game time, using a 12-0 run to blow the game open. Junior Ryan Boulter went 3-of-3 during the run, scoring eight points and hitting a pair of triples

Rapid Recap

  • Both offenses started off strong, scoring 13 combined points over the first 2:30 of the day. The scoring slowed down from there, until freshman Khalief Crawford drilled a three-pointer to put the Warriors in front, 11-9, at the 12:02 mark
  • Joyner came off the bench and scored 10 points over his first 14 minutes on the floor, giving Merrimack a 32-30 lead at the 4:50 mark, breaking the half’s fourth tie
  • With the score tied at 32-all, Merrimack scored the next nine points and ended the half on an 11-2 run to go ahead, 43-34. The Warriors’ reserves accounted for eight of the 11 points, scoring 25 points in the half.
  • Hayes and Boulter combined for five points to start the second half, but Bridgeport cut its deficit to nine, 50-41, at the 16:58 mark and used a timeout. Bridgeport used a 10-4 run to pull within six, but Hayes converted a three-point play to build the Warriors’ lead back to nine with 14:16 remaining
  • Hayes answered a 7-0 Bridgeport run with an uncontested layup at the nine-minute mark, giving the Navy and Gold a 63-55 advantage.
  • Crawford hit a layup with 7:02 remaining that started Merrimack’s game-clinching stretch. Boulter’s triples came on back-to-back possessions, over a span of 30 seconds that turned a 69-60 game into a 75-60 advantage. The Warriors led by as many as 19 in the closing minutes of the game

Top Performers

  • Joyner picked a marquee time to record his first-ever double-double in a Merrimack uniform. The first-year transfer finished with a personal best of 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting while adding 10 rebounds. It was his first game in double figures in the last 10
  • Hayes posted 17 points, nine rebounds and eight steals. He did not miss a shot, shooting 7-of-7 from the field, and increased his Northeast-10 Conference single-season record in steals to 123 through 31 games
  • Boulter led all scorers with 20 points and five triples. It marked the junior’s fifth 20-point game of the season
  • Merrimack shot 53.8 percent from the field and forced the Purple Knights to shoot just 43.5 percent
  • Facing a Bridgeport team that ranked among the top-three nationwide in turnovers forced (22.7) and turnover margin (+6.7), the Navy and Gold committed just 13 miscues and won the turnover battle, 16-13
  • Merrimack’s bench contributed 35 points, with Joyner and Crawford combining for 28

Notes and Notables

  • Both Boulter and Hayes are now withing striking distance of 1,000 career points. The former needs five more and the latter needs 10, with the duo set to become the 44th and 45th players in school history to reach 1,000
  • With 123 steals, Hayes jumped from 15th to fifth all-time in Division II history for steals in a single season
  • Saturday’s game featured five ties and six lead changes; all of those came in the first half
  • Merrimack improved to 8-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, while the Warriors are now 15-0 this season when leading at halftime

Up Next
The Navy and Gold await the winner of No. 2 Saint Thomas Aquinas and No. 7 Bloomfield. If the Spartans win, Merrimack and STAC will meet in the regional semifinals for the second straight year. Tomorrow’s semifinal will tip-off at 5 p.m. at Ted Grant Court.

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