NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – The Merrimack College men’s basketball team put forth another strong defensive effort on Friday night, holding Central Connecticut to 52 points in a 20-point win (72-52) over the Blue Devils at Detrick Gymnasium. The Warriors increased their season-long winning streak to four games, have now won seven of their last eight overall and maintained their lead in the Northeast Conference (NEC) with an 8-4 record.
Trailing 15-12 at the nine-minute mark of the first half, the Warriors closed the first 20 minutes on a 19-4 run to take a 31-19 lead. The Warriors’ lead grew to as many as 25 (50-25) in the second half follow five 3-pointers in the half’s first eight minutes. Later in the final stanza and after Central Connecticut climbed within nine points, 54-45, the Warriors put the game away for good with an 11-0 run.
Four Warriors scored in double figures led by a near double-double for sophomore Ziggy Reid with 15 points and nine rebounds. Junior Mikey Watkins added 15 points as well to tie for the team lead, while senior Devin Jensen scored 12 points on four 3-pointers.
Score: Merrimack 72, CCSU 52
Records: Merrimack (8-4, 8-4 NEC) | CCSU (4-12, 4-9 NEC)
Location: New Britain, Conn. | Detrick Gymnasium
- Watkins hit a 3-pointer to cement a 10-5 start to the game for the Warriors. The hosts responded with a 10-2 stretch, however, to grab a slight 15-12 edge with under nine minutes left in the opening half.
- Merrimack ended the first on a 19-4 stretch, holding the hosts to just four points in a near nine-minute span to gain control. The Warriors’ defense forced the Blue Devils into eight straight missed shots during the run in addition to a pair of turnovers. Reid scored nine straight points during the run, while Jensen bookended the stretch with 3-pointers. The visitors led, 31-19, at intermission
- Jensen and Watkins made consecutive triples to start the second half as part of an 8-0 run for the Warriors. Jensen added another long ball as did sophomores Jordan McKoy and Mykel Derring to help build Merrimack’s lead to 25, 50-25, approaching the midway point of the second half
- Central Connecticut had one more push. The Blue Devils quieted the Warriors’ attack, and used a 20-4 run to bring their deficit down to single digits, 54-45. Merrimack hit the gas pedal once more at that point, scoring the game’s next 11 points to increase its lead back to 20 with under four minutes to play. Freshman Malik Edmead started the 11-0 run with an old-fashioned three-point play
Notes and Numbers
- Over its four-game winning streak, Merrimack has held its opponents to 53.5 points per game. The Warriors have held their opponents to fewer than 20 shots made in three straight, and six or fewer 3-pointers in three of the last four games
- Merrimack has allowed a team to score 60 or fewer points in 21 of its last 42 games dating back to last year, going 20-1 in those contests
- With three steals, Jensen set a new career high with 21 thefts through 12 games. He had 30 total steals over 70 career games coming into the year
- He’s also turned it on from beyond the arc, hitting at least two 3-pointers in four straight games, while shooting 44 percent during that span (11-25)
- Reid tied his career high with nine rebounds, falling one shy of his first career double-double
- Merrimack outrebounded CCSU, 36-26
- The Warriors are 4-0 against the Blue Devils over the last two seasons
Merrimack will be off until next Saturday when the Warriors play their first of two games next weekend against Bryant University.