Links: Box Score
NORTH ANDOVER, MASS. – Senior Juvaris Hayes dominated on Friday night, totaling 22 points, eight assists, six rebounds and six steals to lead the Merrimack College men’s basketball team to a 64-57 win over Sacred Heart University at Hammel Court. The contest was the first-ever nationally televised contest at Hammel Court, airing on CBS Sports Network. With his effort, Hayes tied the NCAA’s all-time steals record, ending the night with 448 career thefts.
Merrimack maintained its lead in the NEC with two games remaining in the regular season, holding a one-game advantage over Robert Morris University. The Warriors are making a bid to become the first program ever to win a conference regular season title in its first year of reclassification to Division I.
Tied 26-26 at halftime, Merrimack’s offense took over in the second half aided by nine 3-pointers made in the final stanza. Hayes hit two of the nine in the final 20 minutes, hitting a career-high four on the evening. A 14-4 run midway through the half gave the Warriors a comfortable double-digit lead that never dipped below six over the final seven minutes.
Merrimack has a quick turnaround, visiting Mount St. Mary’s for a 3 p.m. tip-off on Sunday afternoon.
Score: Merrimack 64, Sacred Heart 57
Records: Merrimack (19-10, 13-3 NEC) | Sacred Heart (16-12, 9-6 NEC)
Location: Hammel Court | North Andover, Mass.
Merrimack won in its debut on CBS Sports Network
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 22, 2020
National college basketball reporter Jon Rothstein chimed in on Merrimack’s success this season
Merrimack just won its 19th game of the season, setting a record for most wins by a team in their first year of Division 1.
Joey Gallo. Buy Stock Now.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 22, 2020
Merrimack played in front of its second straight sellout crowd at Hammel Court, and third overall this season
— Merrimack Men’s Basketball (@MerrimackMBB) February 21, 2020
- A defensive slugfest ensued in the first half. Both teams scored 10 points nearing the midway point of the half before a freshman Mykel Derring hit a 3-pointer that gave Merrimack a 13-10 advantage
- Neither team led by more than one possession over the final seven minutes of the first half. Sacred Heart took a brief lead, 24-21, but Hayes answered with a triple followed by a fastbreak layup for sophomore Mikey Watkins, creating a 5-0 burst for Merrimack. The Pioneers hit the last bucket of the half, however, making a last-second 3-pointer to tie the game at halftime
- The three ball fall early and often in the second half for Merrimack: the Warriors’ first five made field goals were all from behind the arc, including two straight from Hayes as part of eight straight points for the senior point guard. After that stretch, the hosts led, 44-34, with under 12 minutes to play
- Derring and freshman Ziggy Reid hit consecutive treys to give Merrimack a 12-point lead, 50-38, with nine minutes on the clock. The Warriors’ edge remained in double digits and grew to as many as 14 points at one moment, until Sacred Heart crept within nine, 54-45, with 4:07 remaining
- Junior Devin Jensen hit Merrimack’s ninth and final 3-pointer in the final two points, that appeared to put the game away, but the visitors clawed back within six, 60-54, with 52 seconds remaining. The Warriors hit four free throws in the final minutes to salt the game away, giving Merrimack its 19th win of the year
Notes and Numbers
- Hayes tied Tennyson Whitted of Ramapo (2000-03) for the NCAA steals record, ending the night with 448 in his illustrious career
- The career night for Hayes also featured four 3-pointers, the most he’s has in a single game in his four-year Merrimack tenure. He added season highs in points (22), field goals (8) and field goal attempts (19)
- Merrimack’s defense was excellent, forcing 21 Sacred Heart turnovers resulting in 19 points scored. Thirteen of the 21 miscues were the result of Warriors steals
- Merrimack improved to 7-0 this season when it has at least 12 steals in a game
- If Merrimack wins and Robert Morris loses on Sunday, Merrimack will clinch the NEC Regular Season Championship
Merrimack plays its final road game of the regular season on Sunday when the Warriors visit Mount St Mary’s. Tip-off in Emmitsburg, Md. is set for 3 p.m.