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Merrimack beats New Haven to claim NE10 championship

Merrimack claimed its first NE10 championship in 19 seasons with a 51-46 win over New Haven on Saturday …

WEST HAVEN, Conn. – In a low-scoring, defense-oriented affair, the Merrimack College men’s basketball team knocked off the University of New Haven in a battle of the Northeast-10 Conference’s No. 2 seeds, 51-46, on Saturday afternoon to win the 2019 NE10 Championship. The program won its first conference title since 2000 and third overall in school history, joining the 1991-92 and 1999-00 teams as league champions. The Warriors erased a 35-28 second-half deficit with a 15-2 run that created a 43-37 advantage with 4:17 remaining. Merrimack’s defense held the Chargers to without a field goal during the run, a near eight-minute stretch, which swung the game in the visitors favor.

Senior Ryan Boulter scored a game-high 17 points on five 3-pointers, three of which came in the second half. Junior Juvaris Hayes filled it up with eight points, nine assists and 10 rebounds as both Warriors landed on the NE10 All-Championship Team. Boulter earned NE10 Championship MVP honors. Merrimack improved its all-time record to 3-1 in NE10 Finals, winning the league in its last chance to do before reclassifying to Division I next season. Senior Troy McLaughlin also took home hardware as the NE10’s Elite 24 Award winner, boasting the highest cumulative grade-point-average at the conference championship.

The second half from Charger Gymnasium began with Merrimack owning a slim 24-22 advantage, but the hosts started the stanza on a 13-4 run that made it a 35-28 contest at the 11:30 mark. The next seven-plus minutes saw Merrimack hold New Haven 0-for-6 from the field with three turnovers, enabling the 15-2 stretch that changed the course of the afternoon. Boulter started the run with a trey, and ended it with consecutive long balls to give Merrimack a lead it never relinquished.

The Basics
ScoreMerrimack 51, New Haven 46
Records: Merrimack (22-9) | New Haven (20-9)
Location: Charger Gymnasium | West Haven, Conn.

2019 NE10 Championship Schedule
First Round ­ Friday, March 1st:
Game 1:  Pace (No. 5 seed SW) 74, Franklin Pierce (No. 4 seed NE) 61
Game 2:  Southern Connecticut (No. 4 seed SW) 80, Stonehill (No. 5 seed NE) 75

Quarterfinals ­ Sunday, March 3rd:
Game 3:  Le Moyne (No. 1 seed SW) 86, Pace (No. 5 seed SW) 66
Game 4:  Southern Connecticut (No. 4 seed SW) 97, Saint Anselm (No. 1 seed NE) 87
Game 5:  New Haven (No. 2 seed SW) 70, Bentley (No. 3 seed NE) 69
Game 6:  Merrimack (No. 2 seed NE) 83, Adelphi (No. 3 seed SW) 81 

Semifinals ­ Wednesday, March 6th (at highest seeds remaining):
Game 7: Merrimack (No. 2 seed NE) def. Le Moyne (No. 1 seed SW), 84-77
Game 8: New Haven (No. 2 seed SW) def. Southern Connecticut (No. 4 seed SW), 87-66

Championship ­ Saturday, March 9th (at highest seed remaining):
Game 9:  Merrimack (No. 2 seed NE) def. New Haven (No. 2 seed SW), 51-46

Rapid Recap

  • After New Haven netted a 5-0 burst to move ahead, 8-5, in the early going, Merrimack responded with a 7-0 run. Junior Idris Joyner finished two straight buckets at the rim to make is a 12-8 game in favor of Merrimack with 13:33 on the clock
  • With the score at 15-10, the Chargers netted six in a row to pull in front by one, 16-15. The Warriors answered with a quick layup by sophomore Khalief Crawford to nab the lead back with under 10 minutes to play in the half. The next five minutes saw New Haven creep in front, 22-19, only to have Joyner tie the game up with an old-fashioned three-point play with 4:48 remaining
  • Merrimack held the Chargers scoreless over the final 5:18 of the opening half, but could only muster five points during that span. Junior Jaleel Lordconverted a reverse layup with under one minute left, breaking the 22-all deadlock to put Merrimack ahead, 24-22, at the break
  • The second half started similarly to the first, with the opponents combining for 10 points over the first seven minutes. New Haven began a run from there, scoring seven straight to break a 28-28 tie and take a 35-28 lead. Boulter drilled a corner trey to stop the run, prompting a Merrimack timeout at the 11:09 mark
  • Two minutes passed and the Warriors extended their run to 7-2 following a right-handed finish for Hayes, making it a 37-35 game. Merrimack the extended its run to 11-2, seeing Boulter swish a contested right-wing triple at the 5:19 mark to push the Warriors ahead, 40-37
  • The team’s traded long balls, leading the score at 43-40 in favor of Merrimack with four minutes even to play. The Chargers made it a game in the final minute, closing within as many as one, 47-46, with 1:24 remaining. Merrimack’s clamped down from there, holding the Chargers scoreless in the day’s final 83 seconds while forcing a pair of turnovers. Both Boulter and Lord hit two free throws each to salt the game away

Notes and Numbers

  • The title snapped a 19-year drought for Merrimack College, winning its first conference crown since the 1999-00 squad cut down the nets at Hammel Court
  • Merrimack’s defense allowed the fewest points in NE10 Championship game history (46), relenting fewer than 50 for the fourth time this season
  • The Warriors’ 22nd win of the year tied the school record for wins in a year, recording the fifth 22-win campaign in school history. Merrimack’s senior class of Boulter and McLaughlin notched their 76th win as a duo, moving into a tie for first as the winningest class in school history
  • Boulter’s five 3-pointers led all players, and moved his season total (98) within two of establishing a new career high
  • Hayes posted his fourth game of at least 10 rebounds and 10th game of at least nine assists. He ended the night with 599 points, 210 rebounds, 207 assists and 124 steals on the season, needing one more point to post the first season of at least 600 points, 200 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 steals in NCAA history (across all divisions)
  • The floor general’s 124 steals ties his own NE10 single-season record, which he set last year
  • Joyner’s first half kept Merrimack in the game; the starting center scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. The Plainfield, N.J. native finished the day with 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks
  • Merrimack’s held New Haven to a season-low 34.6 percent shooting (18-52), and forced 18 turnovers, the Chargers’ third most in the 2018-19 year

Up Next
Merrimack claimed the NE10’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship and will now await its seed in next week’s tournament. The NCAA Division II Selection Show is tomorrow night at 10:30 p.m. on

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