|Matchup||Merrimack (12-8, 6-1 NEC) vs. FDU (4-13, 2-4 NEC)|
|Date/Time||Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 // 7 p.m.|
|Venue||North Andover, Mass. // Hammel Court|
|Multimedia||Watch // Live Stats|
|Social||Twitter // Instagram|
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The first-place Merrimack College men’s basketball program begins a three-game homestand on Thursday night when the Warriors welcome Fairleigh Dickinson University to Hammel Court for a 7 p.m. Northeast Conference (NEC) affair. Thursday will be the first of two meetings between the Warriors and Knights over the next two weeks, and see FDU head coach and former Warrior Greg Herenda ’83 return to campus to face Merrimack at the Division I level for the first time.
GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
- A general admission ticket for Thursday’s game costs $7
- All faculty/staff, military, senior and youth tickets cost $5
- Seating at Hammel Court is all general admission
- Tickets can be purchased in person or online here
- GAME PROMOTION: Lace Up for Pediatric Cancer Night
- The Warriors will be sporting yellow shoe laces in an effort to generate awareness for kids cancer.
- Donations will be accepted for the Lace Up for Pediatric Cancer organization in the Hall of Fame lobby through halftime of Thursday’s game
SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS
The defending NEC champions have won just four of 17 games, but have a 2-4 league record coming into Thursday. FDU competed in a difficult non-conference slate, visiting DePaul, Notre Dame and Kentucky among eight non-conference road games. Four Knights average in double figures led by 15.6 points per contest for Jahlil Jenkins. Kaleb Bishop has been a force inside, totaling 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per night
HISTORY AGAINST FDU
Gallo’s first game on Merrimack’s sideline was an exhibition at Fairleigh Dickinson to start the 2016-17 season, a game that saw Merrimack take a halftime lead before FDU pulled away. Thursday will be the Warriors’ first game at the D1 level against FDU and first game overall against the Knights; Merrimack has played FDU’s Madison campus squad on four occasions, winning all four games.
|Category||Merrimack (12-8, 6-1 NEC)||Fairleigh Dickinson (4-13, 2-4 NEC)|
|Field-Goal % Defense||43.9%||45.6%|
|3-PT Field Goal %||30.9%||32.4%|
|3-PT Field Goal % Defense||31.4%||36.1%|
|3-PT Field Goals (Made-Attempts)||145-470||115-355|
GALLO VS. HERENDA
Saturday’s matchup pits two Merrimack alums against each other in Greg Herenda ’83 and Joe Gallo ’04. Herenda holds the single-game assist record at Merrimack (22), serving as the team’s point guard during his career. Like Gallo, Herenda served as an assistant coach for long-time Warrior boss Bert Hammel from 1985-89. It will be Herenda’s first time coach against Merrimack at the Division I level; Herenda coached against the Warriors when he was the head man at UMass Lowell from 2008-13.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Merrimack joins Cal Baptist and North Alabama as programs going through the reclassification process to Division I. As part of the process, the Warriors will not be postseason eligible in the NEC and not be able to compete in the conference tournament; Merrimack will, however, count in the regular season standings and have an opportunity to claim a NEC Regular Season Championship. The Warriors also will not appear in the national statistics until the reclassification process completes ahead of the 2023-24 season. In men’s basketball, the Warriors are eligible for select postseason tournament such as the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and the College Insider Tournament (CIT).
THE WARRIORS ARE STREAKING
Merrimack’s current five-game winning streak is the second longest under fourth-year head coach Gallo, needing one win to match a six-game run by the 2016-17 group, Gallo’s first year. The run has given sole possession of the NEC’s top spot through seven games. Merrimack is one of 22 teams nationally riding a winning streak of at least five games.
THE NEW ASSIST KING
With six helpers on against Boston University on Sunday, Dec. 29, Juvaris Hayes surpassed Darren Duncan ’10 as the program’s all-time assists leader. Hayes enters Monday with 868 career helpers. He ranks second in the NEC in assists per game (5.7)
PUTTING THE NEC IN THE ZONE
Led by the nation’s leader in steals in Juvaris Hayes (76), the Warriors’ defense has dominated during NEC play. The Warriors led the conference in turnover margin (+5.6) and steals per game (10.6), averaging nearly three more steals than any other team. Merrimack also has the league’s best scoring defense at 60.8 points per game. Nationally, Merrimack ranks sixth in turnover margin and tied for fourth in steals per game. Hayes needs three helpers to move into second place all-time in NCAA history in steals.
THE RETURN OF THE ROAD WARRIORS
With Merrimack’s current run, the Warriors became the first NEC team since Wagner in 2017-18 to sweep the daunted “Western PA” trip to Robert Morris and Saint Francis. The Warriors have seven true road victories on the year, tying Hofstra University for the second most nationwide.
LOU HENSON AWARD MID-SEASON WATCHLIST
Another prestigious recognition bestowed to Hayes was a spot on the Lou Henson Award mid-season Watch List, which was announced last Thursday. The point guard was one of 50 players named to the list, which is given to the nation’s top mid-major player at year’s end. Hayes was one of three players from the NEC named on the watch list, as well.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Merrimack is tied with Illinois State and East Tennessee State with eight different leading scorers on the season. Senior Idris Joyner became Merrimack’s eighth different player to lead the team in scoring at Robert Morris (1/4), and has since done it in five out of the last six games. Senior Jaleel Lord leads the team with six occurrences as the Warriors’ top scorer.
DRIS IS COOKING IN CONFERENCE
Joyner has been Merrimack’s top scorer in conference play, averaging over 14 points per game. His in-league scoring average has increased his overall scoring average to nearly 10 points per game, aided by a career-best 28-point performance on Monday at Saint Francis.
Merrimack continues its stretch of games on campus next Thursday when the Warriors welcome St. Francis Brooklyn to campus for a 7 p.m. tilt.