NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Merrimack sophomore Mykel Derring scored a career-high 19 points – 16 of which came in the second half – on Thursday night to lead the Warriors to a 62-51 win over Fairleigh Dickinson at Hammel Court.
The Warriors overcame a three-point halftime deficit, using an 11-0 run early in the second half to take control of the game for good.
“We had our best week of practice,” said Merrimack coach Joe Gallo. “Not that we’ve had many weeks of practice, but our practice looked more like Merrimack practices of the past. It carried over to the game and it looked more like what we’re all used to it looking like. We were defending well, controlling the tempo and getting a lead and executing late with under four minutes left. That looked more like the team I envisioned.”
The Warriors improved to 2-3 (2-3 NEC) on the year while FDU dropped to 2-7 (1-2 NEC). Derring led all scorers with 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers including four in the second half alone. Sophomore Jordan Minor added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, collecting his second double-double of the season.
The Warriors bounced back after getting swept at Mount St. Mary’s last weekend.
“It definitely was (a wakeup call),” Gallo said. “I was a little nervous, because by Monday the sting of a sweep could have worn off. Our guys had an edge on Monday. They were tired of losing and showed that in practice. I wasn’t sure if we’d win the game tonight, but I knew our effort on the defensive end would be much better.”
Merrimack dispelled FDU in the second half, outscoring the Knights by a 37-23 margin. The Warriors’ defense held the Knights to 29.6 percent shooting (8-27) while shooting 50 percent (12-24) on the offensive end of the floor. Derring and senior Devin Jensen combined to shoot 5-of-9 from the beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes.
The teams will complete the two-game series at Hammel Court on Friday afternoon (4 p.m.).
“We’re in the weight room (after the game) with foam rolls and chugging waters,” Gallo said. “We’ll walk through some stuff but there’s not a whole lot to change in these back-to-backs. It’s usually just who shows up ready to play.”