SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For the first time in 19 years, the Merrimack College men’s basketball program earned a berth in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship game as the second-seeded Warriors upset top-seeded Le Moyne, 84-77, in overtime on Wednesday in the NE10 Semifinals from Ted Grant Court in Syracuse, N.Y. Le Moyne forced the extra five minutes by ending regulation on a 10-1 run, but Merrimack rebounded in the final five minutes, holding Le Moyne to just four points in the first 4:41 of the extra period, allowing the Warriors to build an insurmountable lead.
Video: Ryan Boulter Interview
Merrimack advanced to its first NE10 Final in 19 years (1999-00), marking the fourth championship game appearance in school history. The Warriors will meet second-seeded New Haven in a 1 p.m. tip-off from Charger Gymnasium in West Haven, Conn. New Haven finished second in the Southwest Division, and will host the title game due to its head-to-head win over the Warriors in the regular season.
Junior Juvaris Hayes notched a near triple-double with 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists over 43 minutes of action. Senior Ryan Boultercontributed 22 points as well, joining Hayes with over 40 minutes on the floor. The duo combined for 10 of Merrimack’s 14 points in overtime, while sophomore Khalief Crawford sank arguably the most important bucket of his young career, converting a driving layup with the shot clock expiring that proved to be the game-clinching field goal, 79-74, with 46 seconds to play.
Score (OT): Merrimack 84, Le Moyne 77
Records: Merrimack (21-9) | Le Moyne (18-9)
Location: Hammel Court | North Andover, Mass.
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) vs. New Haven (No. 2 seed SW) (1:00 PM)
- Le Moyne scored the first points of the overtime session, but proceeded to net just two points over the next 3:41. Merrimack’s defense forced the Dolphins to just 1-of-3 shooting and three turnovers during that span. On the other end of the floor, the Warriors used an 11-2 stretch that ensured a Merrimack win. With 3:14 to go, Boulter converted an and-one that was set up by junior Idris Joyner to give the visitors the edge, 75-74. Le Moyne answered with a bucket, but Hayes made a bucket before Crawford’s shot-clock beating two made it a five-point game with less than a minute to go
- The Dolphins’ run to close regulation spanned the final 3:30, and saw a game-tying triple fall in with less than 15 seconds to play in the game. Le Moyne had a chance to win, as well, but saw a last-second heave miss
- To start the night, Merrimack scored the first eight points of the game and started the first 5:09 on an 11-3 run. The trio of junior Hayes, junior Jaleel Lord and sophomore Crawford each had 3-pointers as part of the run. Merrimack’s lead grew to as many as 10, 17-7, but a 6-0 Le Moyne run made it a 17-13 game with 9:54 left until halftime
- Boulter sank a baseline jumper to snap a 7-0 Le Moyne run, moving Merrimack ahead, 22-20, with under eight minutes to play. From there the teams exchanged buckets, leaving the visitors with a 28-27 advantage at the final media timeout of the half with 4:27 on the clock
- The Warriors closed the half on a 9-3 run. Merrimack saw Crawford finish the half with eight points, including a momentum-swinging triple from the left wing. Boulter and Hayes each added field goals to complete the run, sending the visitors to the locker room with the edge, 37-31
- Merrimack’s lead grew to as many as 10 multiple times in the second half’s first 10 minutes, including at 50-40 following a steal-and-score for Boulter. The hosts responded with five straight points, closing the gap in half, 50-45, with under 13 minutes left. Le Moyne’s run extended to seven straight points, but Hayes took over Merrimack’s offense, scoring the next seven for the Warriors. With 9:09 to play, Merrimack owned a 57-52 edge.
- Joyner turned it on for Merrimack, scoring five of Merrimack’s next 10 points. Boulter added a crucial corner trey after Le Moyne crept within two, and the Warriors’ lead held at seven, 67-60, with 4:39 remaining
Notes and Numbers
- Merrimack improved its overall record to 4-7 in the NE10 Semifinals, winning for the first time since the 1999-00 season. The Warriors own a 2-1 record all-time in NE10 Championship games, winning the title in both the 1999-00 and 1991-92 seasons
- The Warriors’ 21st win of the season ties the second most in school history, and is the most under third-year head coach Joe Gallo. The program has won 21 games five different times and 22 games in four separate seasons
- Boulter and senior Troy McLaughlin have now won 75 games as a duo, moving within one triumph of tying the seniors from the 1991-92 squad as the winningest class in program history
- Coming off a National Player of the Week selection, Hayes dominated Wednesday’s semifinal. The floor general did not leave the floor in second half or overtime, nearly collecting his third career triple-double. In two playoff games, Hayes is averaging 37 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game while shooting 29-of-46 from the floor and 3-of-4 from deep
- Joyner scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half / overtime, while Crawford accounted for an efficient 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting. The quarter of Joyner, Boulter, Hayes and Crawford scored 75 of Merrimack’s 84 points
- Merrimack’s defense forced 18 turnovers, the same amount the Warriors forced in the first meeting with the Dolphins. Le Moyne has turned the ball over 15 or fewer times in every game this season except when it has played the Warriors
Merrimack advances to its first NE10 Championship game in 19 years on Saturday afternoon, facing second-seeded New Haven on Saturday a 1 p.m. from Charger Gymnasium in West Haven, Conn. The victor will get the NE10’s automatic bid to the Division II NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship