BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Merrimack College men’s basketball team held St. Francis Brooklyn to 16 second-half points – including a scoreless drought of over 10 minutes – to ignite a comeback triumph as the Warriors toppled the Terriers, 60-50, on the road at the Pope Physical Education Center Thursday night. Merrimack picked up its 17th victory of the year, establishing a new wins record for a program in its first year reclassifying to Division I.
The Warriors surpassed Cal Baptist’s 16-win season from one year ago as the new record for a first-year Division I program. Sixteen of Merrimack’s 17 triumphs this season have come against Division I competition as well; the Lancers only had 12 DI victories one year ago.
On Thursday night it was the Warriors’ zone defense that stole headlines once more. Facing a 42-36 deficit with 15:28 to play, Merrimack held St. Francis scoreless over the next 10:06 of game action, resulting in a 20-0 run for the Warriors. On the night, the Warriors held St. Francis without a 3-pointer (0-15), and forced the Terriers into 12 straight missed shots and four turnovers during the scoreless drought.
Merrimack has now won 10 of its last 11 games, improving to 17-9 (11-2 NEC) on the season. The Warriors kept pace with Robert Morris, sitting in a tie for first place with the Colonials in the NEC standings with five games to play in the regular season.
Score: Merrimack 60, St. Francis Brooklyn 50
Records: Merrimack (17-9, 11-2 NEC) | St. Francis Brooklyn (11-14, 5-8 NEC)
Location: Pope Physical Education Center | Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Junior Devin Jensen hit a 3-pointer to start the night and senior Idris Joyner followed with four of Merrimack’s next nine points, staking the Warriors to an early 12-4 lead. By the under-12 media timeout, the Terriers managed to cut the deficit to one, 18-17, despite Merrimack’s balanced offensive attack that featured six different scorers in the night’s first nine-plus minutes
- St. Francis pulled even, 20-20, but Jensen splashed home back-to-back triples to give Merrimack a six-point lead, 26-20. The final six minutes of the half belonged to the hosts, however, as the Terriers ended the opening stanza on a 14-4 run to take a 34-30 edge into the locker room. Jensen and freshman Jordan Minor scored nine and eight points, respectively, to lead the visitors on a perfect 7-of-7 combined effort from the field
- St. Francis built its lead to eight, 38-30, to start the second half, and held a 42-36 advantage five minutes into the final stanza, but the Warriors turned the game on is face from there
- Jensen and Lord connected on consecutive triples to tie the game, Minor scored on his fifth straight shot attempt and sophomore Mikey Watkins scored five of Merrimack’s next six points to account for the first 14 points of Merrimack’s prolonged run. The Warriors led, 50-42, after Watkins’ right-handed finish at the 9:24 mark
- The drought for St. Francis ended with 5:22 on the clock, and the Terriers crept within single digits, 56-48, with 2:24 remaining. Merrimack closed the door at that point, extending its lead back to double figures to end the game
Notes and Numbers
- In a record that has now changed hands three times in the last six years, Merrimack owns the first-year wins record for reclassifying institutions to Division I, owning one more (17) than Cal Baptist (16) and two more than Grand Canyon University (15)
- Merrimack won its ninth road game of the season, moving into a tie for second nationally in road victories. With two road games remaining, Merrimack has a chance to become the first NEC team since 2015-16 with at least 10 wins away from campus
- Senior Juvaris Hayes filled it up once more, posting a stat line of 10 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals. Hayes needs 14 more thefts to set a new NCAA steals record
- Jensen’s nine rebounds were both a season high and a career high. He led Merrimack in scoring for the third time this season
- Senior Jaleel Lord (11), Watkins (11) and Minor (10) also scored in double figures. Minor was perfect from field, hitting all five of his shot attempts
Merrimack faces Wagner on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. on campus at Hammel Court. The NEC tilt can be seen on ESPN+, the Warriors’ debut appearance at home on the ESPN family of networks. The contest will feature an “I Love Merrimack” t-shirt giveaway in addition to serving as the program’s Alumni Day.