NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College women’s basketball team lost its first contest of the 2014-15 year, to the Stonehill Skyhawks, 74-69, on Wednesday night. Merrimack trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, but fought back to make it a one-possession contest with less than one minute remaining.
Score: Merrimack 69 | Stonehill 74
Records: Merrimack (2-1, 0-1 NE-10) | Stonehill (3-0, 3-0 NE-10)
Location: Bert Hammel Court | North Andover, Mass.
How It Happened
Facing a deficit as large as 18 points in the first half, and a halftime score of 46-36 in favor of Stonehill, the Warriors fought valiantly to nearly steal the Northeast-10 opener for both squads.
Merrimack trailed by 16 points with 6:46 remaining in the game, but proceeded to go on a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to five points.
Trailing by seven points with less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Warriors nearly pulled off an improbable comeback. Senior forward Aria Johnson (Los Osos, Calif.) scored a layup with 1:31 on the clock to make it a five-point game at 72-67. On the Skyhawks’ next possession, they missed a three-pointer, allowing the Navy and Gold to push the ball up the floor, where Allison Wagner (Center Conway, N.H.) hit a two-pointer and was fouled, with a chance to make it a two-point game.
Wagner missed the ensuing free throw, and Stonehill’s Tori Faieta hit a layup with 14 seconds left in the game to make it a two-possession ballgame, 74-69, giving Stonehill the victory.
In the first half, both teams exchanged baskets with score tied at 7-7 at the 16:32 mark of the first half. Over the next four minutes, the Skyhawks would go on a 14-2 run, taking a 21-9 advantage. A Paige Marshall three-pointer doubled Stonehill’s lead to 28-14, putting Merrimack in a deep hole. The Skyhawks then scored 11 of the next 18 points to take an 18-point advantage with a little over six minutes remaining in the first stanza.
The Warriors began to chip away. In a three-minute span, Merrimack cut the deficit to 11, during a spurt highlighted by back-to-back three pointers from Wagner. A Johnson bucket with 21 seconds left gave the made it an eight-point game at 44-36, but Samantha Hyslip hit a jumper as the clock wound down to give Stonehill a 10-point halftime lead.
Inside The Numbers
Wagner totaled 17 points off of the bench, giving the senior a new career high, breaking her previous mark of 15. He went 6-for-11 from the field, including hitting on five of the eight three-pointers she attempted
Johnson was one rebound shy of her second double-double of the season. She posted 17 points and nine boards
Senior Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass.) registered 11 points, the first time she has finished in double figures this season
Merrimack lost despite outrebounding the Skyhawks, 42-31, including a 15-6 advantage on the offensive glass
The Warriors travel to Franklin Pierce on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for their first road contest of the season.
Mike McMahon covers Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike is also on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN