Watkins the hero as Merrimack tops Maine
BANGOR, Maine — Mikey Watkins nailed a three-pointer with 28 seconds left on the clock to give the Merrimack men’s basketball team a 49-47 win over Maine on Tuesday at the Cross Insurance Center in downtown Bangor.
The Warriors found a way to pull out the victory despite shooting just 30.9 percent from the floor and going 3 for 18 from three-point range.
“That was a vintage Merrimack win,” said head coach Joe Gallo. “We were 17 for 55 from the floor, 3 for 18 from three, and 12 for 21 from the line and we still found a way to win.
“To win road games you have to defend, rebound, and take care of the ball. It would be nice if a few more went in the hoop, but I was happy with the way we scrapped. Mike made a big shot down the stretch; he was due for that. He came up huge.”
Defensively, the Warriors didn’t allow Maine sophomore guard Vukasin Masic to heat up. The Serbian native finished with seven points in 33 minutes on 3-for-11 shooting.
The Black Bears led 47-44 with 1:07 left when Watkins hit a layup to cut Merrimack’s deficit to one point. Then the Warriors forced Masic to turn the ball over which set up Watkins' three-pointer. Ziggy Reid missed the initial attempt but the ball was rebounded by Malik Edmead in a scramble.
The Warriors led 25-21 at halftime. Both teams struggled to shoot; Maine finished the night 17 for 45 from the floor.
Merrimack wrapped up non-conference play 5-8. The Warriors’ five non-conference wins were tied for most in the NEC with Wagner.
“I thought we had a lot of good efforts in our non-conference games,” Gallo said. “Our five wins are as many as anyone in our league. We had a five-game skid. The Lowell and BU games were heartbreakers. Those were games we played well enough to win, we just couldn’t close it out. The way we came back after the trip to Gonzaga and Indiana — a lot of teams would have their bags packed for Christmas, but I thought we competed all night.”
GAME NOTES: Jordan Minor recorded his fourth double-double of the season, which leads the NEC. Minor had 13 points and 10 rebounds. … Reid led the Warriors with 11 rebounds. …
NEXT: The Warriors will host Saint Francis Brooklyn in the NEC opener next Wednesday (Dec. 29) at Hammel Court (7 p.m.).
Merrimack 49, Maine 47 at Cross Insurance Center Merrimack (5-8): 25-24--49 Maine (3-7): 21-26--47 Merrimack (49): Jordan Minor 6-1-13; Mikey Watkins 4-0-9; Malik Edmead 3-3-9; Ziggy Reid 1-6-8; Jordan McKoy 2-0-5; Nick Filchner 1-0-3; Justin Connolly 0-2-2; Mykel Derring 0-0-0; James Berry III 0-0-0. Maine (47): LeChaun DuHart 4-0-10; Vukasin Masic 3-0-7; Ata Turgut 3-1-7; Novak Perovic 1-0-2; Maks Klanjscek 0-0-0; Adefolalrin 2-6-10; Sam Ihekwoaba 3-0-7; Ja'Shtone Weight-Mcleish 1-0-3; Chris Efretuei 0-1-1; Byron Ireland 0-0-0; Kristians Feierbergs 0-0-0; Peter Filipovity 0-0-0. Attendance: 453 (5,800)
Exclusively for TMR subscribers, here is my breakdown of Tuesday night’s game …