(Ed. Note — The story will also appear in Wednesday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune)
NORTH ANDOVER — Trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, the Merrimack women’s basketball team charged back, taking a lead into the fourth quarter before Adelphi gained control late and cemented the win with controversial free throws in a 63-60 victory at Hammel Court.
With 1.5 seconds left the game and Adelphi leading 61-60, Lindsay Werner was called for a questionable foul going for a loose ball off a rebound which put Adelphi at the line (Merrimack was over the limit). At the same time, Merrimack’s Alyssa Casey was called for a technical foul while at the scorer’s table waiting to check in. After Werner slammed to the floor, the Warriors thought they were getting the ball with a chance to take the lead before realizing the call was on the junior guard.
Warner was electric from three-point range, knocking down 6 of 11 attempts and at one point making five of seven in helping lead the Warriors’ comeback in the second quarter.
“The bench loves to see Lindsay knock down threes like that,” said Merrimack head coach Monique LeBlanc. “She’s a great shooter and she’s a workhorse. When she takes open shots, I just know it’s going in. She’s that good of a shooter.”
Merrimack trailed 16-4 at the end of the first and then trailed by as many as 20-6 in the second quarter. The Warriors went on a 17-4 run in the second quarter and didn’t commit a team foul until under two minutes left in the quarter.
Trailing by one point at halftime, Warner hit a three with 6:48 left in the third quarter to tie the score and the Warriors took a 48-40 lead entering the fourth.
“We take pride in being Warriors,” LeBlanc said. “If you watch us play, you’re going to see a team that competes. Obviously, the one place we can improve is being in front. To come back like that we made a lot of great decisions and great plays. Adelphi is a great team, and they’re really aggressive. Unfortunately what it came down to was us making too many mistakes down the stretch.”
Adelphi outscored Merrimack 23-12 in the fourth, ironically it was the reverse of the totals in the second quarter.
“We gave up some predictable things early,” LeBlanc said. “We knew that (Fallyn Stephens) was a really good shooter for them, and we gave her some really great looks early in the game. We weren’t dialed in enough on our personnel assignments, but then we tightened it up. We started to do a better job of taking away their individual strengths. Overall we were just defending better. (Adelphi) was really good on the boards when our D was strong though, and that kept them in it giving them second opportunities. ”
After the free throws with 1.5 seconds left, Adelphi took the 63-60 lead. The Warriors had one last chance to tie the score but Warner’s Hail Mary attempt from just inside half court fell short.
Warner led the Warriors with 21 points and Mayson Kimball (12) and Denia Davis-Stewart (12) also scored in double figures. Davis-Stewart had seven blocks and Karlee Alves finished with 10 assists.
Merrimack is off until Saturday when it begins a three-game road trip at Le Moyne (1:30) in Syracuse. The trip will also include games at New Haven (Jan. 17) and AIC (Jan. 23).