NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College women’s basketball team concludes the 2020-21 season this week with a pair of games at Sacred Heart University. The Warriors and Pioneers will meet at the William H. Pitt Center on Thursday and Friday down in Fairfield, Conn. with tip-off of each game set for 7 p.m. Both contests can be streamed for free on NEC Front Row and by downloading the NEC On the Run app.
LAST TIME OUT
Merrimack faced league-leading Mount St. Mary’s last week for two games at Hammel Court, the final two home contests of the season for the Warriors. After losing in the opener, Merrimack put up a valiant fight in the second game, fighting back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to take a lead in the final quarter. A 21-4 run spanned the third and fourth quarter of the game, which got the Warriors right back into the game. Senior Mayson Kimball finished with a game-high 21 points while shooting 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Freshman Teneisia Brown also enjoyed a strong game, scoring six points in the final quarter.
Despite playing at the Division I level for the first time as foes last season, Thursday and Friday will be the fifth and sixth meetings between the Warriors and Pioneers. Merrimack owns a 2-2 all-time record against SHU, splitting the two meetings last season. The team’s also played single games against each other in the 1987-88 and 1992-93 seasons. Merrimack lost last year’s game at the Pitt Center, 63-60, as they make a bid for their first-ever win at SHU this week. The Warriors won the game played on campus, 59-45, in February of 2020.
SCOUTING THE PIONEERS
Sacred Heart enters Thursday’s contest sitting in fifth place in the NEC, with the top-four programs advancing to the conference tournament. The Pioneers have seen an up-and-down conference slate play out, with the team’s current three-game losing streak following up a season-long six-game winning streak. Senior Adrianne Hagood has paced Sacred Heart all year, averaging 14.3 points per game while shooting 36 percent from deep while averaging 2.0 3-pointers per game. Sacred Heart ranks fifth in the NEC in both scoring offense (62.3 ppg) and scoring defense (64.6 points allowed).
|Category||Merrimack (3-10, 3-10 NEC)||Sacred Heart (8-8, 8-6 NEC)|
|Field-Goal % Defense||41.6%||38.9%|
|3-PT Field Goal %||34.6%||29.5%|
|3-PT Field Goal % Defense||32.2%||30.9%|
|3-PT Field Goals (Made-Attempts)||103-298||77-261|
|Winning Percentage||3-10 (.231)||8-6 (.571)|
Merrimack has a few individuals within striking distance of milestones in 2020-21. Senior Alyssa Casey boasts 962 points and 420 rebounds. She would become the 22nd 1,000-point scorer in school history. Senior Mayson Kimball – who missed last season due to injury – has started in all 13 games this season and is also nearing 1,000 points, sitting on 832. Junior Kate Mager is approaching Merrimack’s 3-pointers made record, needing 15 more to set establish a new mark. She’s hit 175 triples over 72 games.
KIMBALL’S RECENT RUN
After missing all of 2019-20 due to injury, senior Mayson Kimball has been on a roll recently for Merrimack. Since February 9 (seven games), Kimball is averaging 18.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Her shooting splits during this stretch are .417/.381/.680, hitting 16 3-pointers in total over seven games.
THE MORRONE CAPSULE
Kelly Morrone begins her tenure as the seventh head coach in the history of the Merrimack College women’s basketball program. Morrone brings 117 career victories with her, spending the past seven seasons at DII John Carroll University in Ohio. Morrone brought that program to new heights, reaching its first three NCAA Tournaments over her seven-year stretch. She boasts plenty of DI experience too, playing at the University of South Carolina while coaching at William & Mary (2012-13), Rhode Island (2010-12), Davidson (2008-10) and Buffalo (2005-08).
AROUND THE NEC
Merrimack is among the NEC leaders in a few different areas. With strong offensive performances recently, Merrimack has risen to third in scoring offense (64.3) and fifth in field goal percentage (.396). The Warriors are second in the league in 3-point percentage (.346). The Warriors are also fifth in the league in both assists (12.8/game) and second in steals (9.2/game).