Big First Half Enough for Merrimack Over Men's Basketball, 85-74

Moreton posted his fifth career double-double with 24 points and a career-best 15 rebounds tonight. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

Hayes leads Warriors to key NE10 win between regionally-ranked teams

EASTON, Mass. (February 14, 2018) – Merrimack College, ranked tenth in the first NCAA Division II East Regional rankings of the season released today, shot 62-percent from the field in the first half on its way to a key 85-74 victory over Stonehill College, ranked eighth in the region, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Sophomore point guard Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, New Jersey/Saint Anthony's) led Merrimack to clinch home court advantage for the quarterfinals of the upcoming NE10 Tournament with 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting, with five assists and seven steals. Freshman Khalief Crawford (Linden, New Jersey/Linden) scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, converting all six free-throws, with three rebounds and two assists, while junior Troy McLaughlin (Old Tappan, New Jersey/Choate Rosemary Hall) added 11 first half points, connecting on all three of his shots from the field, including a pair of three-pointers, and all three free-throws in 19 minutes off the bench.

Senior Joel Berroa (Lawrence, Massachusetts/Bridgton Academy) and sophomore Will Moreton (Minneapolis, Minnesota/Edina) combined for 44 points to lead Stonehill. Moreton recorded a double-double for the second-straight game and fourth time this season overall (fifth career) with 24 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, shooting 8-for-13 from the field, including a white-hot 7-for-8 from three-point distance, while adding two assists. Berroa tallied a career-high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, with eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Berroa scored a career-high 21 points for the Skyhawks tonight. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

Sophomore Dan Largey (Oceanport, New Jersey/Peddie School) rounded out Stonehill's double-figure scorers with ten points, connecting on 3-of-7 three-pointers, and three rebounds. Senior KJ Lee (Huntington Station, New York/Long Island Lutheran) dished out eight assists, with seven points and five boards. Stonehill remains in third place in the NE10's Northeast Division standings, with their lead in front of fourth-place Bentley University trimmed to a game, and two games over Southern New Hampshire University and Franklin Pierce University with two games to play.

Merrimack shot 62.1-percent (18-for-29) from the field in building a 12-point halftime lead (48-36), connecting on 4-of-7 three-pointers, after falling behind by ten early in the opening half. Stonehill scored the first six points of the game, including four from Berroa, on its way to a ten-point lead (14-4) after a three-pointer from freshman Owen Chose (Eden Prairie, Minnesota/Eden Prairie) five and a half minutes into the game. Berroa finished with six points in all during the opening stretch.

Merrimack responded with 13-straight points to grab the lead (17-14) after a McLaughlin jumper midway through the half. Four different players scored for the Warriors during the run, led by four points apiece from Hayes and sophomore Devon Moore (Hanover, Pennsylvania/Delone Catholic). The teams traded threes over the next two minutes until an 8-2 spurt gave Merrimack a six-point lead (28-22) after a Hayes steal and dunk with 6:20 remaining in the half.

Stonehill pulled back within a point (28-27) after a jumper from sophomore Brandon Twitty (Randolph, Massachusetts/Catholic Memorial) with five minutes left in the half, but Merrimack followed with a 15-4 run to open a 12-point lead (43-31) after a dunk from senior Tawayne Anderson, Jr. (New York, New York/Long Island Lutheran) with 1:39 left in the half. The Warriors lead reached 14 (48-34) following a Hayes layup off his own steal in the final minute of the opening half, before settling for a 12-point halftime cushion (48-36).

Stonehill trimmed its deficit to seven (48-41) after a Moreton triple a minute into the second half, but Merrimack followed with a 12-1 run to open an 18-point advantage (60-42) following a Hayes layup four minutes in. The Skyhawks wouldn't close within double-figures again until a Lee layup with 44-seconds left (83-74), but didn't score again and Crawford halted the late push with a layup for the final margin with 35-seconds to go.

Stonehill (15-10, 11-8 NE10) looks to bounce back on Saturday, when it hosts Assumption College for Senior Day at Merkert Gym at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for Stonehill home games can be purchased online in advance at Merrimack (17-9, 13-6 NE10) visits Bentley University on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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