Merrimack moves into first place with win at Pace
PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Trailing 56-55 with just 6:06 remaining, junior guard Troy McLaughlin (Old Tappan, N.J.) converted a four-point play that ignited a 13-6 run, which ended with seven consecutive points for sophomore Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, N.J.) and allowed the Merrimack College men’s basketball program to leave Pace University on Saturday with a 72-68 Northeast-10 Conference victory. The win improved the program’s NE10 record to 8-1, moving the Warriors into first place in the Northeast Division and marking the best nine-game start in league play for the program in 27 years.
Score: Merrimack 72, Pace 68
Records: Merrimack (11-4, 8-1 NE10) | Pace (5-11, 1-7 NE10)
Location: Goldstein Fitness Center | Pleasantville, N.Y.
- For the second time in as many games, McLaughlin connected on a three-pointer while getting fouled, netting his first points of the game to put Merrimack in front, 59-56
- Pace responded with six straight points to pull ahead, 62-59, only to see the Warriors scamper on a 9-0 run that culminated with a left-handed layup for Hayes with 59 seconds left, staking the Navy and Gold to a 68-62 advantage
- The Setters did score the next four points to bring the game back to a one-possession margin, but Merrimack hit its final four free throw attempts to eliminate the comeback try
- Pace used the first five minutes to open a 14-6 lead behind six points apiece for Greg Poleon and Austin Gilbertson
- The next 10 minutes saw the Warriors complete a 22-9 run that turned their eight-point deficit into a 28-23 advantage at the 5:34 mark
- Starting with a triple for senior Kyle Howes (Maynard, Mass.) with under 10 minutes left, the team’s traded buckets until freshman Devin Jensen(Brielle, N.J.) hit his second trey in as many attempts that straight trey, giving the Warriors a lead it would not relinquish over the remainder of the half
- Merrimack looked like it would take a 37-32 lead to the break, but a foul on a three-point heave by Pace gave the Setters three free throws to make it a two-point game through 20 minutes
- The hosts tied the game at the 14:54 mark of the second half, but sophomore Devon Moore (Hanover, Pa.) canned a trey to immediately get Merrimack the lead back, 47-44
- The next 10 minutes saw the program’s trade leads, which included an unconventional three-point play converted by Howes with 9:34 remaining to flip the script back in Merrimack’s favor, 53-52
- Howes’ free throws at the 3:44 mark started the 9-0 run that created the game’s 11th and final lead change. On the Warriors’ next possession, Hayes drove to the hoop for an acrobatic layup that gave the Navy and Gold the lead for good
Notes and Notables
- Both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 editions of the Warriors started NE10 play with 7-2 records, but Saturday’s win equaled the 8-1 start that the 1990-91 program got off to nearly three decades ago
- Merrimack increased its NE10 winning streak to seven games, the longest since the 2009-10 team rattled off 10 league wins in a row
- The contest featured six ties and 11 lead changes
- Hayes led two Warriors in double figures with 17 points, doing most of his work at the charity stripe, where he converted 9-of-12 attempts. He also recorded his eighth game this season with at least five steals
- Merrimack’s rookie of duo of Khalief Crawford (Linden, N.J.) and Jensen combined to shoot 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, accounting for all but three of Merrimack’s triples on the day
- The Warriors set a season high with 21 free throws
Merrimack will return to campus and take on the Adelphi University Panthers at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night from Hammel Court.