NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College men’s basketball program held No. 17/17 Saint Anselm to its fewest points in 35 years, limiting the Northeast-10 Conference’s top-ranked offense to 39 points in the Warriors’ 61-39 win from Hammel Court on Saturday. The contest pitted the top-two teams in the Northeast Division against each other, with Merrimack (16-7, 11-5 NE10) moving within two games of Saint Anselm (17-4, 13-3 NE10) for the division lead with the victory.
Merrimack’s zone defense forced the Hawks into 23 turnovers, and limited the Hawks to 28.6 percent shooting from the field (14-49) and 11.8 percent (2-17) from downtown. Saint Anselm entered Saturday averaging over 85 points per game to lead the NE10, and ranked 12th nationwide by making 41.1 percent of its 3-point attempts.
The Warriors’ victory increased their current winning streak to four games, tying their season high for consecutive victories. With Merrimack’s win and Stonehill’s loss, the Warriors guaranteed that can finish no lower than fifth in the Northeast Division, and officially clinched a berth in the NE10 Championship for the third consecutive season.
Score: Merrimack 61, #17/17 Saint Anselm 39
Records: Merrimack (16-7, 11-5 NE10) | #17/17 Saint Anselm (17-4, 13-3 NE10)
Location: Hammel Court | North Andover, Mass.
- The Warriors started the game on a 16-6 run over the first 6:45 of action, prompting the Hawks’ first timeout of the afternoon at the 13:15 mark. Juniors Juvaris Hayes and Jaleel Lord as well as senior Ryan Boulter all sank 3-pointers during the stretch. The following four minutes saw Merrimack relent just a single point, opening a 22-7 advantage at the midway point of the half following a bucket by sophomore Khalief Crawford
- Lord and Boulter sank consecutive triples to give the Warriors a 17-point lead, and freshman Mikey Watkins hit a shot at the 5:25 mark to start quite the five-minute run for the rookie. Outside of a single free throw, Watkins scored 12 of Merrimack’s final 13 points in the half, shooting 5-for-5 in the half’s final five minutes. With the near-capacity Hammel Court crowd chanting his name, the Roselle, N.J. native hit a driving layup to beat the halftime buzzer and put Merrimack in front, 40-18, through 20 minutes
- The hosts lead ballooned to 25 points on multiple occasions in the first 10 minutes of the final stanza. Senior Troy McLaughlin finished a layup at the 14:38 mark to make it a 47-22 game, and two minutes later Crawford brought it back to 25 with a 3-pointer of his own. With the edge down to 23, Hayes picked the pocket of senior Cody Ball, and went the distance for a dunk that brought the Hammel faithful to its feet once more. The Warriors led, 52-27, after that moment
- The Warriors led did not dip below 20 the remainder of the game. With the Hawks threatening to dip below that mark, Crawford hit the day’s final field goal at the 2:13 mark to make it a 61-38 contest. Merrimack held Saint Anselm without a field goal over the final four minutes of the game
Notes and Numbers
- The 39 points allowed were the fewest for Merrimack since the program only gave up 36 in a win over Saint Michael’s during the 2012-13 campaign
- For Saint Anselm – one of the premier Division II programs in the East Region – it marked its fewest point in game since 2011-12. Merrimack became the first team in 35 years (1983-84) to hold the Hawks below 40 points
- Merrimack forced Saint Anselm into a season-low 14 field goals and two 3-pointers; the Hawks previous low in total shots made was 21. For the Warriors, it marked both the second fewest field goals allowed and second fewest 3-point field goals allowed this season
- Watkins scored all 14 of his point in the opening half, shooting 6-of-7 overall in the first 20 minutes. He tied with Hayes for the game’s highest scorer.
- Speaking of Juvaris, he finished the night with six steals, five rebounds and five assists to go along with 14 points. He became the fourth NE10 player ever to record 300 career thefts, finishing the night with 302 career steals playing in his 86th career game
Merrimack travels to Franklin Pierce on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tilt against the Ravens.