NORTH ANDOVER — Struggling to find shooting throughout the game, the Merrimack men’s basketball team fell to Dominican, 75-60, on Sunday afternoon at Hammel Court.
The Warriors built an early lead (13-8) in the opening minutes but trailed at halftime while only shooting 34 percent from the floor in the opening half.
After opening with that 13-8 lead, the Chargers scored 17 unanswered points, opening up a 25-13 lead that they would never relinquish.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Warriors, who fell to 9-4 on the season.
“We started out great and had some energy,” said Merrimack head coach Joe Gallo. “We missed a couple of shots early but we kept defending. The disappointing part is we have been defending well. We’ve had some games over this five-game winning streak where we haven’t shot it well, but we hung our hat on our defending. St. A’s scored 71 on a late bucket, but other than that we kept the last five opponents under 70 points, and that’s against some good offensive teams.
“For the most part, we haven’t let our offense dictate our defense, but we did today. They were the harder-playing team.”
Merrimack was never able to put together a string of defensive stops. Dominican worked for long possessions, regularly circulating the ball between the guards to kill clock.
“The way we have been playing, if we can get three stops in a row, we call it a turkey, and we chart them,” Gallo said. “If you go through our games, when we get a turkey, it usually leads to a 6-0 or 8-0 run. We were waiting for that to happen today but it never came.”
Merrimack came within six in the second half. Kyle Howes knocked down a three to make the deficit 39-33 and Idris Joyner followed up with a huge block on Sayon Charles at the other end. That gave the crowd some energy but the Warriors weren’t ultimately able to capitalize.
The Warriors were also the victims of a heavy disparity in fouls. The Warriors finished with 14 personal fouls — Dominican had 12 — but the Chargers only had six personal fouls late into the second half.
Merrimack was still without the services of Ryan Boulter, whose shooting was missed on the outside while he remains out with an injury.
The Warriors shot just 38.2 percent in the game (33.3 percent from three-point range). Boulter is averaging 16.5 points per game and is a 50.8 percent three-point shooter this season.
“Early, when you lose a guy like that, everyone plays up a little bit,” Gallo said. “Now, I think the reality is starting to set in that we don’t have him and I don’t know if guys are getting nervous or pressing to fill that void. But it definitely would have helped to have someone like him out there to hit some shots.”
Merrimack will hit the court again on Wednesday night, when the Warriors get back into NE10 play against Southern Connecticut at Hammel Court.
The Warriors remain 6-1 in the conference, which is tied for the top spot with Southern New Hampshire.