Minor and Reid lead Merrimack past SFC in NEC opener
NORTH ANDOVER — Behind 23 points from Jordan Minor and 20 points from Ziggy Reid, the Merrimack men’s basketball team topped St. Francis Brooklyn, 74-64, to open NEC play last night at Hammel Court.
The Warriors had four players score in double figures, led by Minor and Reid, as well as Mikey Watkins (11 points) and Malik Edmead (10 points).
“I thought we set the tone early, defensively” said Merrimack head coach Joe Gallo “I think they were stuck on five for six points up to seven minutes into the game. That's always us. We were able to get out and transition score off of our defense a little bit. I give (SFC) credit, because they made a run. They kept the pace and they picked up the tempo a little bit and had us on our heels a little bit in second half.
With the Terriers pressuring the Warriors late in the game - at one point they cut the deficit from 13 points to five points with about five minutes left - Jordan McKoy banged down two huge threes to give the Warriors a comfortable lead.
“Those were two big shots in crucial times when they were getting to us with a little bit of pressure,” Gallo said. “Then we were making free throws down the stretch, which was huge.”
St. Francis pressed Merrimack for most of the game. The Warriors were able to relieve the pressure for the most part, minus a few miscues early in the first half.
“That's what they do,” Gallo said. “Forever that's been their style. … We knew coming in that's what they were going to do. You can tell your guys it's coming and they don't really believe you, so it took us a turnover to kind of snap out of it and handle the pressure but I thought they did a great job.
“The hardest thing is getting it inbounds, and once we got it in, having Mikey and Malik — with those two guys together it’s having two point guards out there really — that helped relieve some of that pressure.”
Offensively, the Warriors had their best night of the season, shooting 56 percent from the floor. Merrimack’s 74 points was its most since a 75-60 win over Hartford last month, and it’s their second-most points in a game all season.
“The other day in practice, we had just okay offensive segment,” Gallo said. “We said, ‘let's not think we're going to win every game 47-45.’ At some point we got to score some points and take offense a little bit more seriously. That that should be the fun part of the game. These guys have been in the gym all week and Jordan (McKoy) works as hard as anyone, so I was really happy to see him see the ball go in a couple times.”
GAME NOTES: Devin Jensen, who has missed the last three games, did not dress and was in street clothes with a walking boot before the game. … Minor tied his season-high with six blocks in the victory. … Merrimack shot 56 percent from the field, which is their best shooting performance so far this season.
NEXT: The Warriors host LIU on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Terriers will host Central Connecticut on Friday.
Merrimack 74, St. Francis 64 at Hammel Court St. Francis (3-9, 0-1 NEC): 24-40--64 Merrimack (6-8, 1-0 NEC): 37-37--74 St. Francis (64): Rob Higgins 5-5-18; Larry Moreno 5-0-13; Tedrick Wilcox Jr. 4-2-12; Vuk Stevanic 0-1-1; Nick Folk Jr. 3-0-7; Elijah Hardison 1-3-5; Kasper Suurorg 1-1-3; Jack Hemphill 0-0-0; Trey Quartlebaum 0-0-0. Merrimack (74): Jordan Minor 8-7-23; Ziggy Reid 5-8-20; Mikey Watkins 5-0-11; Malik Edmead 4-0-10; Jordan McKoy 2-0-6; Mykel Derring 1-0-2; Justin Connolly 1-0-2; Nick Filchner 0-0-0; James Berry III 0-0-0. Assists: Merrimack 14; SFC 13 Rebounds: Merrimack 5-20(25); SFC 18-23(41) Attendance: 282
Exclusively for TMR subscribers, below is my breakdown of Wednesday night’s NEC opener …
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