COLCHESTER, Vt. – Facing an 18-point deficit with 6:18 left in the third quarter, the Merrimack College women’s basketball team proceeded to reverse its fortunes, ending Tuesday night by outscoring the host Saint Michael’s College Purple Knights, 42-21, to win its regular season finale, 67-64. With the victory coupled with Southern New Hampshire’s defeat, the Warriors finished fourth in the Northeast Division and will host the opening round of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Friday night at 7 p.m. from Hammel Court.
Video: Kate Mager Interview
The Warriors’ conference record finished at 12-9, besting the Penmen’s league mark (11-10) by one game. Merrimack will welcome fifth-seeded Southern Connecticut to Hammel Court in the program’s first home playoff game since the 2014-15 campaign.
Tuesday’s comeback was fueled by a 17-2 run that spanned the final 3:53 of the third quarter and the first 65 seconds of the fourth, tying the game at 48-all. Merrimack then used an 11-0 fourth-quarter run to turn a 53-50 deficit into a 61-53 advantage, taking the lead for good with 5:38 remaining in the game. Junior Denia Davis-Stewart led the charge with a double-double of 19 points and 19 rebounds while freshman Kate Magercontributed five 3-pointers off the bench, including four in the second half.
Score: Merrimack 67, Saint Michael’s 64
Records: Merrimack (19-9, 12-9 NE10) | Saint Michael’s (11-15, 7-14 NE10)
Location: Ross Sports Center | Colchester, Vt.
- Mager hit a 3-pointer and Davis-Stewart converted an old-fashioned three-point play to keep pace with the Purple Knights, 6-6, over the first five minutes. From there, the Purple Knights used an 11-3 run to build a 17-9 advantage with 2:28 left in the first. The hosts led by seven, 19-12, entering the second quarter
- The Purple Knights built their lead up to double figures, 27-17, over the first 5:18 of the second frame. The Warriors were held to nine total points in the second, and only scored four more over the latter half of the second quarter. The hosts led by 12 at halftime, 33-21
- Saint Michael’s led by as many as 18 in the third quarter, and held a 46-31 edge with 3:53 remaining until the fourth. From there, the Warriors closed the frame on a 13-2 run that brought the visitors within four, 48-44, at the start of the fourth. Mager hit two triples, senior Lindsay Werneradded one and Davis-Stewart contributed a three-point play
- Davis-Stewart and senior Karlee Alves hit consecutive buckets to start the fourth, extending the Merrimack run to 17-2 and knotting the score up at 48-48. The Purple Knights answered back with two 3-pointers, but Mager’s fifth 3-pointer hit nothing but net to make it a 53-53 contest with 7:06 to play
- Alves’ pull-up jumper at the 5:28 mark gave Merrimack the lead for the first time since the early portion of the game, 55-53. Merrimack’s 5-0 burst extended to a run of 11 unanswered points, giving the Warriors an eight-point lead (61-53) with less than four minutes left. Saint Michael’s worked within three points down the stretch, but could not push its comeback any closer
Notes and Numbers
- Merrimack’s 12-9 conference marked marked the best for the program and most league wins in 14 years. It is the best NE10 record in the career of head coach Monique LeBlanc
- The Warriors qualified for the conference tournament for the fourth time in five years and will play in the postseason for the third consecutive year, overall. Merrimack is now one win shy of just its fourth 20-win season in school history
- Davis-Stewart’s registered her team-leading 14th double-double of the season, and sixth in her last eight games. She posted her fourth game with at least 18 boards and eighth game of at least 18 points
- Mager became the second Warrior to bypass 60 3-pointers made on the season, setting a career high with five makes. She entered Tuesday’s game already having the most 3-pointers by a NE10 rookie since 2012-13
- After 13 first-half turnovers, the Warriors committed just two in the second half. Saint Michael’s outscored Merrimack, 12-0, in points off turnovers in the first half; the Warriors outscored the Purple Knights, 15-0, in points off turnovers in the second half
- Sophomore Alyssa Casey added a near double-double of 10 points and nine rebounds. Alves contributed seven points, seven assists and six steals
- Werner finished the night with two 3-pointers, moving with four makes of setting a new school record (190)
Merrimack finished the year in fourth place in the Northeast Division, and by doing so will host the fifth-seeded Southern Connecticut State Owls in the opening round of the NE10 Championship on Friday night at Hammel Court. Tip-off of Merrimack’s first home playoff game in four years is scheduled for 7 p.m.