The Warriors enacted a second-half rally to overcome a 31-24 halftime deficit. Merrimack forced 12 second-half turnovers – nine of which were steals – which resulted in 17 points. The Warriors also kept the Hawks out of the paint, outscoring the hosts, 22-2, under the basket over the final 20 minutes.
Lord led the team in scoring with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting while adding six rebounds. Senior Juvaris Hayes added 17 points including a game-high 12 in the second half. Sophomore Mikey Watkins was imperative to getting the Warriors back into the game as well, posting four second-half steals and hitting all three of his field goals in the final 20 minutes.
Score: Merrimack 62, Hartford 58
Records: Merrimack (5-3) | Hartford (4-2)
Location: Chase Arena | West Hartford, Conn.
- Hartford used a 7-2 run to take an 11-7 lead early in the game, but Merrimack bounced back. Hayes went the full-length of the floor on a steal-and-score, converting an and-one, and freshman Ziggy Reid hit a baseline layup to give the Warriors a 12-11 edge with 11:54 left in the first half. The lead changed hands three times after that, with Hartford holding a 17-15 edge at the under-eight media timeout
- Trailing 21-17 with 5:22 remaining, the Warriors scored five unanswered including a three-point play by freshman Jordan Minor to take a one-point lead. Hartford responded, however, using an 8-0 run to move ahead, 29-22, with 1:40 left. Hayes ended the run with a right-handed layup, but the Hawks maintained their lead, 31-24, at halftime
- Watkins spearheaded a furious second-half start, converting three steals into layups. The Warriors used a 10-3 stretch to start the half, tying the game at 34-all. Lord also started hot, scoring eight points in the half’s first eight minutes. At the under-12 media timeout, Merrimack trailed by three, 44-41
- From there, Hayes began to take over. The point guard scored seven straight points for Merrimack including his second three-point play of the half, giving Merrimack a 50-45 advantage with 8:21 remaining.
- Hartford climbed within one, 52-51, with 4:15 remaining, but six combined points from Lord and senior Idris Joyner gave Merrimack a six-point edge, 58-52, at the 2:06 mark. The Hawks had another flurry in then, however, using a 6-0 run to bring the game back even with 37 seconds left
- The Warriors called timeout there and created the game-winner. Lord took the ball at the right wing and drove to the baseline, where he was able to fire a pass to the left corner for Jensen who sank the catch-and-shoot opportunity to put Merrimack up three. The Warriors forced a missed triple on the other end with 1.9 seconds to go and Jensen made one free throw to put the game away
Notes and Numbers
- Sunday’s meeting was the first between Merrimack and Hartford as Division I foes, and first meeting overall since the 1982-83 season
- Merrimack now has three road victories this season, joining the University of Vermont and William and Mary as the program’s with the most away wins so far this season
- The Warriors scored their second win in as many tries against America East competition; Merrimack owns a 2-1 record this season against that league, picking up wins over Hartford and UMass Lowell
- Hayes finished the night with two assists to give him 800 for his career. The point guard needs 26 more to break Darren Duncan’s ’10 program record (825)
- Lord scored in double figures for the third time this season, and increased his team-leading scoring average to 11.9 points per game. He also has hit a team-best 18 3-pointers
- The duo of Hayes and Watkins entered Sunday as the NEC’s top two leaders in thefts and combined for seven of Merrimack’s 10 against the Hawks. The former leads Merrimack with 25 steals on the year while the latter is right behind him with 23
Merrimack will be off until Friday when the Warriors visit the University of Akron for a 7 p.m. tip-off in Ohio.