NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Despite a double-double effort from freshman forward Denia Davis-Stewart (Dorchester, Mass.) and a season-high 14 rebounds from senior captain Savannah Johnson (Palmdale, Calif.), the Merrimack College women’s basketball team suffered a 58-55 loss to visiting American International College on Tuesday night from Hammel Court.
Score: AIC 58, Merrimack 55
Records: Merrimack (9-10, 7-7 NE10) | AIC (13-8, 8-5 NE10)
Location: Hammel Court | North Andover, Mass.
The Turning Point:
After the Yellow Jackets trailed for much of the second half, AIC used a 12-3 run that spanned a length of nearly five minutes – from the 7:35 mark to the 2:56 point of the fourth quarter – to collect the fourth and final lead change of the game. Sophomore Dana Watts’ lay-in capped off the run to make it a 50-49 game, with a potential game-tying triple from sophomore Hannah Neild (Litchfield, N.H.) waved off due to a traveling violation with one second to play.
How It Happened (First Quarter)
- The Yellow Jackets limited the Warriors to just one basket over the first five minutes of the game, jumping out to a 9-2 advantage. Imani Stepney collected four points during the run. Merrimack responded with a quick 5-0 run courtesy of a mid-range jumper from Johnson and a 3-pointer off the right hand of Neild
- AIC collected five straight points to double up Merrimack, 14-7, but Neild’s second triple of the quarter fell with 1:20 remaining, pulling the Warriors within four at 14-10. The Yellow Jackets scored four straight points to end the frame, taking an 18-10 lead into the second
How It Happened (Second Quarter)
- The first half of the second quarter saw the teams exchange baskets, with a lay-in from Alston keeping the Warriors’ deficit at eight, 24-16, with 5:24 on the clock
- With the score at 26-16, Merrimack embarked on another 5-0 spurt sparked by sophomore Karlee Alves (Ellington, Conn.). The first-year Warrior hit a pair of free throws before dishing to Davis-Stewart on the fast break to make it a 26-21 game with 2:12 left
- The run extended to seven straight points to end the half. Davis-Stewart hit another layup with 23 seconds late to cap off the scoring. The Warriors held the Yellow Jackets scoreless over the final 4:55 of the half
How It Happened (Third Quarter)
- The Yellow Jackets ended their scoring drought on the quarter’s first possession, but then the Warriors used a 6-0 run over the next three minutes to take their first lead of the night, 29-28. The go-ahead bucket came off a bounce pass from Neild that found a cutting Alston for a wide-open lay-in at the 6:12 mark
- A pair of free throws gave the visitors a brief 30-29 lead, but a 6-0 spurt that ended with a put-back from Johnson – who picked up her season-high setting 12th rebound on the play – to increase Merrimack’s lead to 35-30 with 2:39 remaining
- Merrimack limited AIC to just one field goal in the quarter, with Neild and sophomore Lindsay Werner (Groton, Mass.) hitting jumpers to account for Merrimack’s points over the final two minutes. Free throws from the visitors brought the score to 39-35 after 30 minutes
How It Happened (Fourth Quarter)
- The Yellow Jackets scored the first bucket of the fourth to pull within two, 39-37, but the Warriors used a 7-1 run to increase their lead to eight – their largest to that point with 7:35 left. Davis-Stewart totaled a double-double during that stretch, accounting for four points and one rebound to bring her game totals to 14 and 10, respectively
- Spanning the next three-plus minutes, the Yellow Jackets used an 8-1 run to make it a one-point game at 47-46 as the clock ticked under four minutes to play. The run extended to 12-3 as Watt’s go-ahead bucket gave the Yellow Jackets their first lead since the start of the third quarter, 50-49, with 2:34 remaining
- Over the final two minutes of the game, Merrimack pulled within one possession on three occasions, but never tied the game or took the lead. With 14.3 seconds left, Neild saw a left-wing triple fall through, but the second-year wing was called for a walk with just one second left
Inside The Numbers
- Davis-Stewart – winner of NE10 Rookie of the Week in three of four weeks – picked up her third double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 caroms. Five of her boards came on the offensive glass, while the rookie shot 6-of-11 from the field
- Johnson’s 14 rebounds marked a new season high, falling two short of her career high set as a junior. She totaled eight points on the offensive end
- Entering the game as one of the nation’s best in a multitude of statistics including points per game and rebounds per game, Watts totaled a 21-point performance and fell one rebound shy of a double-double
- The free-throw line proved to be a barometer of the result, with the Yellow Jackets making 16-of-22 from the charity stripe compared to 9-of-19 for the Navy and Gold
Merrimack enjoys its bye weekend as part of the cross-divisional schedule, returning to action in eight days when the Warriors return to Northeast Division play next Wednesday at Saint Michael’s.