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Merrimack rallies after Derkack's injury to beat Maine 71-65
Jordan Derkack has been everything for Merrimack through two games. He was the leading scorer and a leader on the floor. Merrimack head coach Joe Gallo described him as Merrimack's "emotional, spiritual, just everything leader."
With 6:44 left in the first half against Maine on Sunday, Derkack went down. It seemed like an innocent play on the baseline, but Derkack clutched his lower leg and ankle. He eventually got up and limped back to the bench but never re-entered the game.
When Derkack went down, Merrimack led by nine points. About six minutes later, when the game went to halftime, Merrimack was down by one, and the Black Bears just finished off a 15-5 run.
But the Warriors found a way. Freshman guard Budd Clark led the Warriors with 19 points, Devon Savage had 11 points, and transfer Samba Diallo had 14 points as the Warriors clawed back to beat Maine 71-65.
"We started out defending well," Gallo said. "Derkack goes down, and that took the air out of us. But then Budd and Jaylen (Stinson) went the full 20 minutes (in the second half). Maine has great guards and those guys kept them out of the paint all night. For Budd to do what he did, in his third ever college game, is pretty amazing."
Savage played a big role in the backcourt with Derkack on the bench. He shot 3 for 8 from three.
"We were just waiting for him to get going," Gallo said. "He's as good a shooter as we have ever had here. He didn't let missed shots early affect his defense. It was a great team win, I'm proud of these guys."
The Warriors shot 68 percent from the field in the second half (13 for 19) and limited the Black Bears to 40 percent (22 for 50).
Clark finished the game playing 36 minutes. Stinson played 32 minutes off the bench, and Diallo (33 minutes) and Savage (31 minutes) also played more than three-quarters of the game. Princeton transfer Jacob O'Connell played 29 minutes off the bench.
GAME NOTES: The Warriors had 10 steals and forced 15 turnovers. ... Maine out-rebounded the Warriors 33-31. ... Diallo made eight free throws (8 for 10).
NEXT: Merrimack travels to Ohio State on Wednesday night.
"We spent 13 nights in November in hotels," Gallo said. "But it always prepares us for life on the road in conference play."
Merrimack 71, Maine 65 at Memorial Gym Merrimack (71): Clark 6-7-19, Diallo 3-8-14, Savage 3-2-11, Derkack 3-1-7, Etumnu 3-0-6, Stinson 3-3-9, O'Connell 1-0-3, McKoy 1-0-2, Plintauskas 0-0-0; Totals 23-21-71 Maine (65): Wright-McLeis 5-3-17, Feierbergs 5-2-12, Filipovity 3-6-12, Tynes 4-1-11, Clayton 1-0-2, Burns 3-0-7, Lopez 0-2-2, Cisse 1-0-2, Nenadic 0-0-0, Carey 0-0-0. Totals 22-14-65 Attendance: 815