Merrimack Stops Stonehill, 54-50

Junior Patrick Lee was the lone Skyhawk in double-figures with 14 points, seven rebounds and two steals. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

Warriors hold Skyhawks under 30-percent shooting

EASTON, Mass. (February 8, 2011) – Merrimack College turned in a strong defensive effort to post a 54-50 victory over Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll and ranked fourth in the East Region, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Junior Aaron Strothers (Wareham, Mass./Marianapolis Prep) led three Merrimack players in double-figures with 15 points (13 first half), shooting 7-for-9 from the field and converting his lone free-throw attempt, to go with five rebounds (all offensive) and three blocked shots. Classmate Wayne Mack (Paterson, N.J./Paterson Catholic) totaled 14 points, six rebounds and four steals, while sophomore Tyler Young (Brooklyn, N.Y./Boys & Girls) contributed ten points, nine rebounds (five offensive) and two blocks.

Junior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) was the lone Stonehill player in double figures with 14 points, shooting 6-for-10 from the field, including his lone three-point attempt, seven rebounds and two steals. Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) added nine points and nine rebounds, while classmate Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) contributed eight points, seven rebounds (four offensive), three blocks and two assists. Sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) chipped in with seven assists.

Senior Mike Kernan added nine points and nine rebounds. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Merrimack shot 37.5-percent (21-for-56) from the field for the night and despite committing three more turnovers (16-13), posted a 23-10 advantage in points off miscues. Stonehill was held to 29.1-percent shooting, including 7-for-29 (24.1%) in the first half, and was also hindered by ten missed free-throws (15-for-25/60%). Rebounds were even at 41-41 for the night.

Merrimack used a 17-4 run midway through the first half to turn a 13-7 deficit after a Heppert layup with 10:52 remaining in the half into a nine point lead (24-15) with 2:29 left after a tip-in from Young. Strothers contributed eight of his 13 first half points during that stretch. Stonehill drew within five (24-19) after a pair of free-throws from sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) with 1:47 to play in the frame, but sophomore Adam Marshall (Kent, England) drained a three to send the Warriors into halftime with an eight point (27-19) lead.

Merrimack quickly pushed its lead into double-figures (31-19) a minute and a half into the second half on layups by Strothers and Young. The Warriors advantage grew to 13 (39-26) with 12 minutes to play after back-to-back layups from Mack and was extended to 15 (44-29) on a three-pointer by freshman Kevin Regan (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic) with 7:26 left.

Stonehill attempted to rally for a third-straight Tuesday win, using a 15-2 run to pull within two (46-44) after a pair of Markle free-throws with 2:14 still to play. Mack scored the next six points to put Merrimack back up eight (52-44) with 1:20 to go, but Lee banked in a three-pointer and Hamor drained his lone three of the night to cut the gap to two (52-50) with 19-seconds left. After a Merrimack timeout, senior Darin Mency (Hagerstown, Md./St. John's Catholic Prep) sealed the win with two free-throws and the Skyhawks came up empty at the other end.

Lee scored seven of Stonehill's first nine points on the night as the Skyhawks staked out on early 9-3 advantage less than four minutes in. Neither team scored for nearly four minutes before Merrimack drew within two (9-7) on two-straight baskets by Strothers. Stonehill answered with a Hamor jumper and Heppert layup to regain a six point lead (13-7) with 10:52 remaining in the half before Merrimack made its big first half run.

Stonehill (18-5, 13-5 NE-10) looks to get back on the winning track on Saturday when it visits Saint Michael's College for an NE-10 clash at 3:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home the following Saturday, February 19, to host Southern New Hampshire University at 3:30 p.m. Merrimack (11-10, 7-10 NE-10) visits Saint Michael's on Thursday for a makeup game at 7:30 p.m.