Merrimack Shoots Past Stonehill in Second Half, 70-63

Sophomore Brian Hamor netted a career-best 17 points to go with three rebounds at Merrimack tonight (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

Balanced scoring leads Warriors to key early season win

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (November 23, 2010) – Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll, dropped its first conference road game in over a year and a half with a 70-63 setback to Merrimack College, also among teams receiving votes nationally, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Volpe Gymnasium tonight.

Merrimack shot 56.7-percent (17-for-30) from the field in the second half while limiting Stonehill to 31.4% (11-for-35) to erase a two point (32-30) halftime deficit. The loss ended Stonehill's streak of NE-10 wins on the road at 12-straight dating back to February 2009 that included a perfect 11-0 clip during the Skyhawks regular season championship winning campaign last winter.

Merrimack finished shooting 51.9% (28-for-54) from the field on the night overall, including 6-for-14 (42.9%) from three-point range, converting 8-of-11 (72.7%) free-throw attempts. Stonehill finished shooting 39.1% (25-64) overall, including 21.1% (4-19) from three-point range, converting 9-of-14 (64.3%) free-throws. The Skyhawks out-scored the Warriors 20-10 in points off turnovers, but were out-rebounded by the hosts 37-33.

Senior Mike Kernan notched a double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Junior Wayne Mack (Paterson, N.J./Paterson Catholic) led a balanced Merrimack scoring effort with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, including 2-for-3 from three-point range, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. Senior Darin Mency (Hagerstown, Md./St. John's Catholic Prep) also netted 13 points, shooting 4-for-8 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three, while converting 3-of-5 free-throws, to go with eight rebounds and three assists. Junior Aaron Strothers (Wareham, Mass./Marianapolis Prep) finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, four rebounds and four blocked shots, while sophomore Tyler Young (Brooklyn, N.Y./Boys & Girls) posted ten points on 5-of-7 shooting and eight boards. Junior Roland Davis (Deer Park, N.Y./St. Dominic's) chipped in with 11 points, five assists and three rebounds.

Sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) led Stonehill with a career-high 17 points off the bench, shooting 6-for-14 from the field and converting 4-of-6 free-throws, to go with three rebounds. Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) posted a double-double of 12 points and ten rebounds with two steals, while sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) chipped in a career-best ten points, four rebounds and three assists.

Trailing by a point (48-47) midway through the second half, Merrimack took control with a 15-2 run over the next seven minutes to open a 12-point lead (62-50) after a Strothers layup with 3:49 to play. Young had four points and Mency drilled a three-pointer to key the run.

Stonehill drew back within seven (62-55) after a Kernan put back with 1:39 left, but Merrimack scored a key second chance point off a missed free throw to go back up 11 (66-55) with 1:13 to go and held on the rest of the way for the win. Hamor drilled a three to draw the Skyhawks within five (68-63), but Strothers followed with a dunk at the other end to seal the victory.

Merrimack led by nine (23-14) with 8:16 to go in the first half, before Stonehill rallied with a 10-0 run to take its first lead (24-23) after a jumper from junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) with 5:53 left in the half. A Davis three had Merrimack up two (30-28) with 2:40 to go before the break, but Almeida followed with a basket to knot the score (30-30) and then sent the Skyhawks into the lockerroom with the lead (32-30) with a hoop with 47 seconds to go.

The game was back and forth over the first ten minutes of the second half before Merrimack went on its big run to control the game.

Stonehill (3-1, 1-1 NE-10) is back in action on Sunday when it hosts Saint Michael's College for an NE-10 matchup in Merkert Gymnasium at 3:30 p.m. Merrimack (3-1, 1-1 NE-10) is off until next Wednesday when it visits Franklin Pierce University at 7:30 p.m.