EASTON, MA- The Merrimack men's basketball team suffered an 85-66 loss at Stonehill in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Sunday afternoon at Merkert Gymnasium. The sixth-seeded Warriors dip to 15-12 on the season while the third-seeded Skyhawks improve to 19-8 overall.
Merrimack will wait to learn of an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. The Warriors are ranked seventh in the latest East Regional rankings. The NCAA Tournament selection show will air Sunday, March 4 at 10:30 pm on www.ncaa.com.
"The team played hard the whole way through," said head coach Bert Hammel. "It was a tough way to go out in the tournament. We all feel for the seniors and know how much they mean to our program."
Wayne Mack (Paterson, NJ) paced the Warriors with 26 points and seven boards as he moved into 17th on the all-time scoring list with 1,406 career points. Mike Clifford (Danvers, MA) and Aaron Strothers (Wareham, MA) each finished the game with 11 points. Wilfredo Pagan (Lawrence, MA) poured in 10 points as he buried all three of Merrimack's treys in the contest. Tyler Young (Brooklyn, NY) added six boards and two points while Roland Davis (Deer Park, NY) registered four points, four assists and three rebounds.
Stonehill grabbed an early 7-2 lead after three minutes of action. A long two-pointer by Patrick Lee pushed the Skyhawks advantage to 11-4 with 15:15 on the clock.
Pagan drained Merrimack's first three-pointer of the afternoon with 13:30 remaining in the first half, cutting the deficit to 15-9. The senior nailed his second-straight trey with 11:42 left to play in the opening frame to shrink the margin to 18-12.
The hosts extended their lead to 10, 29-19, with 7:30 to go in the first period as Mitch Amelio hit a three-pointer.
A runner in the lane by Mack closed the gap to single digits 32-23 with just under five minutes remaining until halftime. Mack sank a layup with 4:11 on the clock to pull the Warriors to within six, 32-26. The senior captain used a hesitation move to free himself from the defender before driving to the hoop along the baseline.
Young knocked down a mid-range jump shot to slice the deficit to four, 32-28 3:23 left in the first half. Mack connected on a step-in jumper to make it a two-point spread, 32-30, with 2:35 showing on the clock.
The Skyhawks netted 10 unanswered points to hold a 12-point advantage heading into the intermission.
Mack led the Warriors with 14 first-half points and three rebounds. Pagan tallied seven points in the opening 20 minutes of action while Young scored two points and grabbed five boards. The visitors shot 44.0% from the field in the first frame while the home team connected on 46.7% of its field goal attempts.
Stonehill increased its lead to 24 with 11:11 remaining in regulation. The Skyhawks extended the gap to 28 with 7:18 left to play, the largest lead on the day.
With Sunday's win, Stonehill advances to the semifinals of the Northeast-10 Championship and will travel to face Adelphi, the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
Merrimack finished with a field-goal percentage of 41.2% and drained 21.4% of its attempts from beyond the arc. The hosts shot 50.9% from the floor in the contest after connecting on 55.6% of their second-half bids. The Skyhawks boasted a shooting percentage of 42.9% from three-point range on the afternoon.
Stonehill held a 35-29 advantage in rebounds, including a 9-5 margin on the offensive end.