|Matchup||Merrimack (0-0, 0-0 NEC) at FDU (5-4, 1-3 NEC)|
|Date/Time||Saturday, January 23, 2021 // 7 p.m.
Sunday, January 24, 2021 // 4 p.m.
|Venue||Rothman Center // Hackensack, N.J.|
|Multimedia||Live Stats // Watch // Twitter // Instagram|
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – After a spectacular debut on the Division I stage in 2019-20, the Merrimack College women’s basketball program laces up for the first time in 2020-21 this weekend when the Warriors visit Fairleigh Dickinson for a pair of Northeast Conference (NEC) games at the Rothman Center in Hackensack, N.J. Saturday’s game begins at 7 p.m. while Sunday’s action starts at 4 p.m.
RETURN OF THE MACK
The Warriors hit the floor for their second year of Division I play after a spectacular DI debut. Merrimack won 20 games in 2019-20 for just the fifth time in program history, adding a 13-5 NEC record to finish third in the conference. Junior Kate Mager headlines the group after leading the conference in 3-point field goals (76), 3-point percentage (.415) and 3-point attempts (183). The 76 makes as a sophomore established a new single-season record for the program.
Merrimack has a few individuals within striking distance of milestones as the 2020-21 season commences. Senior Alyssa Casey begins the year with 845 points and 366 rebounds as she nears 1,000 points and 500 boards, respectively. She would become the 22nd 1,000-point scorer in school history. Senior Mayson Kimball – who missed last season due to injury – scored 649 points over two years for a 11.4 per game average. Mager will start the year with 142 career 3-pointers, needing 48 more to set a new school record.
The first two games ever between Merrimack and FDU occurred last season, with the Warriors winning on both occasions. The Warriors throttled the Knights in the game played in Hackensack, 84-66, with four players scoring in double figures. Mager notched 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and four 3-pointers while sophomore Alana Fursman added 11 points on a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line and five rebounds. Merrimack won the game played on campus by double digits as well, 62-51.
SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS
Fairleigh Dickinson hits the floor for the first time in January, bring a 5-4 (1-3 NEC) ledger into the weekend twinbill. In league play, the Knights dropped two games to Saint Francis before splitting a pair against Central Connecticut, topping the Blue Devils for their first NEC win. Madison Stanley leads the team with 11.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. FDU boasts the second-best scoring defense in the conference, relenting just 60.5 points per contest.
Matchup Comparison (2019-20 Stats for Merrimack)
|Category||Merrimack (2019-20 Stats)||FDU (5-4, 1-3 NEC)|
|Field-Goal % Defense||34.7%||40.5%|
|3-PT Field Goal %||34.7%||27.5%|
|3-PT Field Goal % Defense||25.8%||30.6%|
|3-PT Field Goals (Made-Attempts)||254-733||44-160|
|Winning Percentage||20-9 (.690)||5-4 (.545)|
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).
THE PERCENTAGES DON’T LIE
When holding its opponents to below 40 percent shooting one season ago, the women’s basketball program boasted an incredibly impressive 19-3 record. As part of Merrimack’s six-game winning streak and 8-1 record over its final nine games (all in NEC) play, the Warriors limited their opponents to under 35 percent shooting in seven of the nine games (7-0 record in those games). On the other side of the ball, the Warriors went 13-2 in the 15 games when they shot better than 40 percent.
LARGE MARGINS OF VICTORY
As part of Merrimack storming onto the Division I stage, the Warriors enjoyed large margin of victories last season. Nineteen of the team’s 29 games one year ago, including both games with FDU, were decided by 10 or more points. In those games, Merrimack posted a record of 17-2.
RECORD BOOK UPDATES
Merrimack’s offense relied heavily on the 3-point jump shot last year, tying the 2018-19 Warriors for the single-season record with 254 makes from deep. Last year, Merrimack did set a team record for most attempts from beyond the arc (254). Eight Warriors made at least 10 triples last year, and six of those eight student-athletes return in 2020-21.
The Warriors’ 2020-21 roster includes four freshmen as well as a transfer student-athlete who will become eligible for her first season at Merrimack. Freshmen guards Nadeshka Bridgewater (Lawrence, Mass.), Grace Clary (Whitehall, Pa.) and Cassandra Hawthorne (Hartford, Conn.) are on the roster for the first time while first-year forward Teneisia Brown is the newest edition to the Warriors’ frontcourt. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, senior Autumn Truesdale (Richmond University) is eligible to take the floor for the first time at Merrimack.
Merrimack meets FDU tomorrow to complete their two-game set. Tip-off from Rothman Center is set for 4 p.m.