NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The host Southern Connecticut State Owls started Wednesday night’s contest against the Merrimack College men’s basketball program on a 9-0 run and opened an 18-point lead less than seven minutes into the Northeast-10 Conference affair. The Warriors would not relent, however, entering halftime down by 10 and cutting their deficit to five just 90 seconds into the final stanza. The visitors pulled within four, 71-67, with 2:00 remaining, but the Owls prevented Merrimack from getting closer in an 80-71 triumph for the hosts.
Merrimack’s reserved guards of senior Troy McLaughlin and freshman Mikey Watkins led the comeback efforts, scoring 31 combined points off the bench. McLaughlin paced the team with a season-best 16 points. Junior Juvaris Hayes nearly posted his third straight double-double, finishing with 11 points and nine assists.
Score: Southern Connecticut 80, Merrimack 71
Records: Merrimack (9-6, 4-4 NE10) | Southern Conn. (10-5, 5-2 NE10)
Location: Moore Field House | New Haven, Conn.
- Southern started the night on a 9-0 run, and within six minutes owned a 23-5 advantage. Watkins came off the bench and connected on five straight points while sophomore Khalief Crawford followed with a three ball, and Merrimack’s deficit sat at 10, 29-19, with eight minutes left until halftime
- The Owls silenced Merrimack’s offensive briefly, using a 6-0 run to build their lead back up to 16. McLaughlin led the charge for Merrimack over the remainder of the half. He finished the opening stanza with a season-best 11 points, sinking a pair of 3-pointers to go along with an old-fashioned three-point play to bring the Warriors back within 10 after 20 minutes, 42-32
- Merrimack ripped off a 5-0 run in the second half’s first 90 seconds to cut its halftime deficit in two. Southern, however, responded with a 13-2 run over the next four minutes that increased its advantage up to 14, 53-39.
- The bench combination of Watkins and McLaughlin came to the rescue again. The duo combined for a 5-0 burst to bring Merrimack within seven, 56-49, with under 12 minutes to play. After the Owls crept back ahead by 11, junior Jaleel Lord sank a corner trey followed by a second-chance opportunity for McLaughlin that forced an Owls timeout with the score at 60-54 with nine minutes remaining
- Continuing the trend throughout the night, Southern answered back before Merrimack could get closer. The Owls used seven unanswered points to extend their advantage out to 13, 67-54, with under seven minutes to play
- A 13-4 run over the next five minutes ensured to bring the Warriors within four points. Four different Warriors scored in the stretch, which was bookended by 3-pointers by senior Ryan Boulter and Lord. The run ended with two minutes remaining, but Merrimack did have a possession to pull within one possession, but a three-point attempt went awry. The Owls scored nine points in the game’s final 57 seconds to put the contest away
Notes and Numbers
- McLaughlin (16) led the way in scoring with Watkins (15) ranking just behind him; each reserve guard hit six field goals apiece while shooting an identical 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. The former set a season-best in scoring and is averaging 12.0 points per game over his last two
- Merrimack attempted a season-high 37 3-pointers, making a season-high 13. The Warriors have hit at least 10 triples in three straight games
- The Warriors’ streak of forcing at least 20 turnovers ended at four games; the Owls committed 18 on the night. Merrimack was able to score 17 off Southern’s miscues while the Owls scored 23 points off just 15 Warrior turnovers
- The hosts took 21 less triples than Merrimack, but hit nine of their 16 shots from deep. Southern finished shooting 56.1 percent from three compared to 35.1 for the visitors
- SCSU’s leading scorer Isaiah McLeod poured in a game-high 29 points that included a perfect 10-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. Luke Beesley contributed a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds
- Southern owned the glass, outrebounding Merrimack by 25 (46-21). The discrepancy also including a 19-5 edge on the offensive glass, leading to a 21-4 advantage in second-chance points
The Warriors return to action this Saturday when Merrimack welcomes Pace University to Hammel Court for a 3 p.m. tip-off on campus.