When and Where: February 11, 2017 – Manchester, N.H. (SNHU Fieldhouse)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 89, Merrimack College 79
Records: SNHU 17-6 (13-5 Northeast-10), Merrimack 17-8 (11-7 Northeast-10)
Redshirt-junior Chris Walters (Stamford, Conn.) and senior Devin Gilligan (Amherst, N.H.) combined for nearly 50 points to lead the Southern New Hampshire University men's basketball team to a massive 89-79 win against Merrimack College on Saturday afternoon at the SNHU Fieldhouse.
Walters flirted with a triple-double as he stuffed the stat sheet with 26 points (7-13 FG, 12-13 FT), 14 rebounds, a career-high seven assists, two blocks and two steals, while Gilligan, who missed the final 22 minutes of Wednesday's loss at Bentley University due to injury, fell just shy of a double-double with 24 points (8-9 FG, 3-3 3-FG, 5-6 FT), nine boards and a pair of assists. Sophomore Daquaise Andrews (Queens, N.Y.) posted 17 points (7-14 FG, 1-3 3-FG, 2-2 FT), five rebounds and two helpers, with junior Dimitri Floras (Merrimack, N.H.) also reaching double figures with 12 points (3-14 FG, 2-6 3-FG, 4-4 FT), six rebounds and four assists.
Ryan Boulter paced the Warriors with 19 points, while Troy McLaughlin added 18. Juvaris Hayes, like Walters, also toyed with triple-double territory as he registered 12 points, 10 assists and seven steals.
Southern New Hampshire fell behind, 8-2, early before a 10-0 run – highlighted by 3-pointers from senior Jerome Harris (Hartford, Conn.) and Floras – put it in front, 12-8, just over four minutes into the contest. With the score tied at 15-all over a minute-and-a-half later, buckets from Gilligan bookended a 13-4 rush that featured five different scorers and expanded the Penmen lead to 28-19 with 9:34 remaining in the opening half.
Two baskets from Hayes helped craft a 6-0 spurt that made it a three-point game for the Warriors before they crept to within one at 36-35 with 1:36 on the clock. Gilligan would score the final five points of the frame to send Southern New Hampshire into the locker room with a 41-35 advantage.
After a McLaughlin triple sliced the Merrimack deficit in half just 12 seconds in, a 6-2 run from the Penmen – with three points each from Gilligan and Andrews – built the lead up to 47-40 at the 18:35 mark of the second. The margin grew as large as eight just over two minutes later before Merrimack responded with an 18-4 blitz that featured four points each from McLaughlin and Anthony Barry, as well as three from Hayes, Boulter and Jaleel Lord, to open up a 63-57 lead with 8:57 remaining. Boulter's 3 to put Merrimack up, 59-57, at the 11:24 mark gave the visitors their first lead since 16:28 of the opening stanza.
SNHU hit right back, however, receiving five points each from Andrews, Floras and Gilligan as part of a 17-4 counter-run that put the Penmen back in front, 74-67, with just over four minutes to play. Gilligan's layup at 6:39 gave the hosts the lead for good at 66-65.
Merrimack would get as close as four with under three minutes on the clock, but a 10-3 run pushed the lead into double figures at a game-high 11 (87-76) with 43 seconds on the clock.. The Penmen went a perfect 8-for-8 from the line over the final 1:23.
Sophomore Charlie Russo (Syracuse, N.Y.) chipped in six points (2-3 FG, 2-3 3-FG) and two rebounds.
-The win snaps SNHU's first two-game losing skid since Jan. 16-20, 2016.
-With the win, the Penmen take a two-game lead on Merrimack in the NE10 Northeast Division standings. Crosstown-rival Saint Anselm College remains two games back after winning Saturday.
-SNHU improves to a perfect 13-0 at home this season, matching last season's team for the highest number of home wins since 2004-05, and has won 16 straight at the Fieldhouse dating back to Feb. 17 of last season. The Penmen are 26-3 at home since the start of the 2015-16 campaign and 38-7 over the last three seasons.
-Walters' double-double was his sixth of the season and 18th of his career.
-Southern New Hampshire outshot Merrimack, 46.7 percent (28-60) to 43.5 percent (30-69), including 42.9 percent (9-21) to 40 percent (10-25) from downtown.
-SNHU was also plus-15 at the line, outshooting Merrimack, 82.8 percent (24-29) to 81.8 percent (9-11).
-The Penmen dominated the glass, 48-27, including 17-10 on the offensive end for a 24-8 margin in second chance points, and narrowly won the paint, 36-34. The Warriors used a better assist-to-turnover ratio (15/8-19/16) to record a 19-10 advantage in points off mistakes.
The Penmen return to action Wednesday, Feb. 15 (7:30 p.m.) when they take on in-state rival Franklin Pierce University. The next home game for SNHU is Saturday, Feb. 18 (3:30 p.m.) when it plays host to Stonehill College on Senior Day at the Fieldhouse.
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