Men's Basketball

Preview: Merrimack travels to Le Moyne tonight for NE10 Semifinal

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The second-seeded Merrimack College men’s basketball team will play in the program’s first Northeast-10 Conference Semifinal in eight years when the Warriors descend on Ted Grant Court Wednesday night to take on the top-seeded and nationally ranked Le Moyne College Dolphins at 7 p.m. in Syracuse, N.Y. The contest marks Merrimack’s third game in Syrcause in the last calendar year, dating back to the 2017 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship. The victor Wednesday will advance to the NE10 Final on Saturday, and compete for the NE10’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.

NE10 Championship Schedule:
Quarterfinals ­ Sunday, February 25
Game 3:  Le Moyne (No. 1 seed SW) def. Stonehill (No. 4 seed NE) – 99-60
Game 4:  Saint Anselm (No. 1 seed NE) def. Southern Connecticut (No. 4 seed SW) – 93-87
Game 5:  Bentley (No. 3 seed NE) def. Saint Rose (No. 2 seed SW) – 68-65
Game 6:  Merrimack (No. 2 seed NE) def. New Haven (No. 3 seed SW)  – 75-59

Semifinals ­ Wednesday, February 28th (at highest seeds remaining):
Game 7: Merrimack (No. 2 seed NE) at Le Moyne (No. 1 seed SW) – 7:00 PM
Game 8: Bentley (No. 3 seed NE) at Saint Anselm (No. 1 seed NE)  – 7:00 PM

Championship ­ Saturday, March 3rd (at highest seed remaining):
Game 9:  Game 8 winner vs. Game 7 winner – 1:00 PM | Broadcast live on Northeast10.tv

Last Time Out:

  • Playing at home in front of a near capacity crowd at Hammel Court, the Warriors surged past the University of New Haven, 75-59, in the first NE10 Quarterfinal on campus since 2009-10
  • The Warriors took a five-point lead into the second half and never trailed over the final 20 minutes, pulling away over the final 10 minutes
  • Sophomore Juvaris Hayes filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, 15 assists, five rebounds and five steals. Junior Ryan Boulter led the squad in scoring with 17 points, hitting five triples, and seniors Kyle Howes (13) and Tawayne Anderson Jr. (10) also scored in double figures
  • The victory earned the Navy and Gold a berth in the NE10 Semifinals for the first time in eight years

‘Mack Facts:

  • Merrimack has made the NE10 Championship in back-to-back years under second-year head coach Joe Gallo. With a win on Wednesday, Merrimack would reach the conference final for the first time in 18 years (1999-00). It would be the program’s fourth appearance in the championship game overall
  • Merrimack’s victory was the program’s first in the NE10 Championship since an opening-round win over New Haven back in the 2014-15 season
  • The Warriors boast 19 victories to match last season’s total. The Navy and Gold have not reached 20 in a season since 2009-10, the last time the program advanced to the conference semifinals
  • Both Merrimack (No. 9) and New Haven (No. 10) were ranked in the latest NCAA Division II East Region poll, with the top-eight qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The final poll before Sunday’s NCAA Selection Show will be unveiled tomorrow afternoon
  • After last Sunday’s performance, Boulter and Hayes are both neck-and-neck in the race for 1,000 points. Boulter has 963 points, trailing his sophomore counterpart by four (967). The duo will be the 44th and 45th players in school history with 1,000 career points
  • With five steals on Sunday, Hayes now has 112 this season and is three away from setting a new NE10 single-season record. He holds the national lead in steals, steals per game and assists
  • On Monday, Hayes received a spot on the NE10 All-Conference First Team, becoming the first Warrior to land on the top squad since Gelvis Solano ’16 in 2014-15. Hayes is one of two players in the conference to rank among the top 10 in points, assists and steals per game, leading the league in the latter two statistics

The Dolphins:

  • Le Moyne received a myriad of all-league honors include a pair of major awards. For back-to-back years, senior Russel Sangster earned Defensive Player of the Year and Patrick Beilein was named Coach of the Year
  • The Dolphins saw four student-athletes land on all-conference squads. Sangster and senior Isaiah Eisendorf received second-team honors while seniors Tyquan Rolon and Robert Jones III earned honorable mention nods
  • Le Moyne enters the final week before the start of the NCAA Tournament with 22 victories, a top-25 ranking in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Coaches Poll and as the top-ranked program in the regional poll. Le Moyne hosted the NCAA East Regional last season as the No. 1 seed
  • On Sunday against Stonehill, Le Moyne poured in a season-high 99 points, beating the Skyhawks by 39 to reach the Semifinals. The Dolphins shot 77 percent in the second half (24-31)
  • Three Dolphins average in double figures led by 11.8 points per game for Rolon.
  • Le Moyne limits its opponents to 62.9 points per game, which is the top scoring defense in the NE10 and the fifth best nationwide

The Series:

  • Le Moyne topped Merrimack in the regular season, 68-61, to avenge the Warriors’ postseason victory in Syracuse last March
  • The Warriors upset the Dolphins in overtime of the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in the team’s prior meeting, 72-68, to become the only No. 8 seed nationally to defeat a top-seeded opponent in the tourney
  • In this year’s regular season tilt, the Navy and Gold suffered from a slow start. The Warriors recovered to hold Le Moyne to 25 points in the second half, but the Dolphins still prevailed
  • The win for the Dolphins broke a 16-16 deadlock in the all-time series, with Le Moyne now owning a 17-16 advantage

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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