NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College men’s basketball used a dominant first half against visiting Pace University – outscoring the Setters, 38-18, over the first 20 minutes – to catapult themselves towards an eventual 76-67 Northeast-10 Conference victory on Saturday afternoon at Hammel Court. Pace rallied in the second half to pull within two, 65-63, but a quick 5-0 burst capped by a 3-pointer for senior Ryan Boulter was enough to prevent the Setters from completing the comeback.
Prior to the game, the Warriors recognized NE10 Hall of Fame inductee Darren Duncan ’10, who was one of five individuals inducted as part of the Class of 2018 and the first-ever inductee for the men’s basketball program. Duncan scored over 2,000 points in his career, led the conference in assists during every season from 2006-10 and is the NE10’s all-time leader in free throws made.
Score: Merrimack 76, Pace 67
Records: Merrimack (10-6, 5-4 NE10) | Pace (10-6, 4-4 NE10)
Location: Hammel Court | North Andover, Mass.
- Junior Juvaris Hayes ignited a 12-0 run to start the game by blocking a shot on a 2-on-1 fast break for Pace. Juniors Jaleel Lord and Idris Joynerput an exclamation point on the stretch with consecutive triples, prompting a Pace timeout less than five minutes into the game
- Merrimack led by 11 (20-9) with nine minutes left in the half before a 9-3 stretch ballooned Merrimack’s advantage to 17. Both sophomore Devin Jensen and Boulter sank 3-pointers during the stretch. Freshman Mikey Watkins joined the three-ball parade at the 3:54 mark, bringing the Warriors’ advantage to 20, 34-14, for the first time. Senior Troy McLaughlin hit a pair of free throws late in the stanza to give the hosts a 20-point lead (38-18) at the half
- The first 6:35 of the half saw Merrimack keep its lead around 20 points, seeing it grow to a game-high 22 points on multiple occasions. With the score at 52-32, the visitors used an 11-2 run spanning just three minutes to cut their deficit to 11 (54-43) at the 9:31 mark
- With 7:42 remaining, the Warriors’ lead dropped to single digits for the first time since the first half after a triple by Pace’s Austin Gilbertson. Merrimack brought its lead up to double figures briefly, 62-52, only to have Pace score six unanswered to close within four with 5:17 to play
- The closest Pace came to overtaking Merrimack came with 3:23 remaining following a trey by Tyrone Cohen. The Warriors responded with a pair of free throws by Joyner followed by Boulter’s game-deciding triple. Sophomore Khalief Crawford hit a lefty driving layup and the Warriors sank four free throws down the stretch to secure the win
Notes and Numbers
- Merrimack’s first-half dominance proved crucial. The Warriors held Pace to 7-of-27 shooting in the opening half, including zero 3-pointers. Merrimack’s zone also forced 12 of Pace’s 19 turnovers in the first 20 minutes
- Offensively, the opening stanza saw the Warriors hit nine of their 11 treys. Seven different Warriors hit triples over the first 20 minutes
- Defensively, Merrimack limited Pace to four 3-pointers on the day tied for the second-fewest allowed by the Warriors in 2018-19
- At game’s end, Hayes led Merrimack with 17 points, needing only eight shot attempts to do so. He made 5-of-8 from the field and hit seven free throws. Boulter (12), Lord (10) and Joyner (10) joined him in double figures
- Lord and Joyner posted identical stat lines of 10 points and eight rebounds. Every player who took the floor scored for Merrimack. Freshman Justin Connolly tied his career high with six points
- Four Setters scored in double figures led by 18 from Cohen
Merrimack takes on Adelphi in its final road game of the month on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Garden City, N.Y.