NEW BRITAIN, CONN. – Behind a second-half effort that saw the Merrimack College men’s basketball team execute defensively to the tune of 15 turnovers forced and 12 steals, the Warriors defeated Central Connecticut State University on Saturday, 58-46, in Northeast Conference (NEC) action from Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain, Conn.
The Warriors and Blue Devils entered halftime tied at 25-25 before Merrimack pulled away in the final 20 minutes for the 12-point win. Senior Juvaris Hayes (5), junior Devin Jensen (3) and sophomore Mikey Watkins (3) all collected multiple thefts in the final stanza; as a result, Merrimack allowed just 21 second-half points. Hayes finished the game with a game-high and career-high tying nine steals, becoming the fourth player in NCAA history (across all three divisions) to reach 400 career steals.
Offensively, senior Idris Joyner scored a season-high 15 points while freshman Mykel Derring chipped in a career-best 12 points on four 3-pointers made to lead Merrimack’s attack. The Warriors shooting improved significantly in the second half, including a 50 percent clip from three-point land (5-10).
The Warriors improved to 9-8 (3-1 NEC) with the victory while Central Connecticut dropped to 1-16 (0-4 NEC) on the year. Merrimack returns to action on Wednesday night when the Warriors welcome Bryant to Hammel Court for a 7 p.m. tip-off. To purchase tickets and for more information, click here.
Score: Merrimack 58, Central Connecticut 46
Records: Merrimack (9-8, 3-1 NEC) | Central Connecticut (1-16, 0-4 NEC)
Location: Detrick Gymnsium | New Britain, Conn.
- Senior Idris Joyner netted eight of the team’s first 10 points, including a layup at the 14:37 mark that gave the Warriors a 10-9 lead. By the midway point of the half, freshman Mykel Derring came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer, staking the Warriors to a 15-12 edge
- Joyner reached double figures with 7:59 to go in the half, but the Blue Devils followed that bucket with an 8-2 stretch that put Central Connecticut up, 25-19, with four minutes left until halftime
- Merrimack’s defense clamped down, holding the hosts without a point for the rest of the half. The Warriors forced four turnovers and two missed shots during that time. Offensively, senior Jaleel Lord and freshman Ziggy Reid each hit treys to enable Merrimack to tie the game before the half
- CCSU began the second half with four straight points, but the Warriors answered with an 11-1 run to build a 36-30 lead. Joyner brought his point total up to 15 during the stretch, while junior Devin Jensen and Derring hit one triple each. The Warriors owned a 36-30 lead with 12 minutes to play in regulation
- The hosts chipped away, closing the gap to four points, 42-38, with 7:46 remaining. Jensen then hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to ignite an 8-2 run. Sophomore Mikey Watkins ended that stretch with a shot-clock beating 20-foot jumper shot, giving the Warriors a 10-point edge (50-40) with 5:37 remaining
- The Warriors forced six turnovers over a five-minute stretch beginning at the 7:46 mark through 2:22 to play in regulation. The visitors held CCSU to 12 points over the final 10 minutes of the game, and made eight free throws down the stretch to salt the game away
Notes and Numbers
- Merrimack picked up its fifth win in school history over Central Connecticut. Saturday was the first game between the institutions in 35 years
- The Warriors collected 18 steals and forced 24 turnovers overall – both of which were season highs against Division I competition. The 18 thefts were the second most by a NEC team in a single game this season, and the most by a NEC team in league play
- Merrimack improved to 7-1 this season when snatching at least 10 steals in a game
- Hayes’ nine thefts tied his career high, the third time in his career that he has had a nine-steal game. He joins John Gallogly (413), Jonte Flowers (Winona State) and Tennyson Whitted (448) in the 400-steal club
- Joyner led Merrimack in scoring for the third straight game, shooting 6-of-7 from the field. Ten of his 15 points came in the first half. Joyner now leads the Warriors with 11.5 points per game in NEC play. He also added a team-best nine rebounds
- Derring scored a new career high with 12 points on a career-best four triples. The rookie is now shooting 38.1 percent (8-21) from the beyond the arc over his last four games
- The senior trio of Hayes, Lord and Joyner picked up their 70th win on Saturday, moving within six of the school record for a senior class
Merrimack returns home to face Bryant University for a 7 p.m. tip-off at Hammel Court on Wednesday night. To purchase tickets, click here.