Women's Basketball Turned Back by Merrimack 59-58

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Merrimack College, which led by 15 points at halftime, held off a furious late Southern New Hampshire University rally to post a 59-58 Northeast-10 women's basketball victory Tuesday night at Volpe Gym.  The Warriors improved to 3-3 and 2-2 in the NE-10 with the win, while the Penmen are now 2-5 and 1-5 in the league.

Kelly Schatzlein led Merrimack with a game-high 18 points, going 9-11 from the floor, while also recording six rebounds and four assists.  Gennifer Roy was the other Warrior to finish in double figures as she totaled 10 points.  Sarah Benischek added nine points, eight rebounds and six assists for Merrimack.

Sloane Sorrell (Berwick, Maine) led Southern New Hampshire with 12 points, while Megan Smith (Smithfield, Maine) added 10 points on 5-8 shooting for the Penmen off the bench.  Julia Houghtaling (Franconia, N.H.) added nine points and seven rebounds.

Southern New Hampshire trailed 38-23 at halftime and 47-36 with 13:24 remaining when it went on a 9-0 run capped by a Sorrell layup at the 9:20 mark to pull within two.  The Penmen then used a 5-0 spurt to the game 53-53 with 4:42 left on a three-pointer by Michelle DeRoma (West Roxbury, Mass.).  SNHU's lead was short-lived, as Benischek would make it 55-53 on Merrimack's next possession with a putback of her own miss.

Merrimack scored six straight to go up 59-53 with 1:55 left, with a Katie Ganser basket capping the run.  Houghtaling would make it a one-possession game with 1:06 left when she sank a pair of free throws. 

Both teams would come up empty on their next possession, and Benischek would turn it over with 32 seconds left.  Magdala Johnson (Sandown, N.H.) would be fouled shooting a three for Southern New Hampshire with 19 seconds to play, and sank all three free throws to make it a one-point game.  Ganser would be fouled with 12 seconds left, but missed the front end of the bonus, with Houghtaling controlling the rebound.  Following a timeout, the Penmen would get one final look, but an attempt by Johnson was off the mark.

Merrimack led the whole way and took a 14-5 lead six minutes into the game following a three-pointer by Roy. The Penmen would get within five, 25-20, with just under six minutes to play on a basket by Smith, but the hosts used an 11-0 run to make it 36-20 with 1:55 left on a Benischek layup.  The Warriors took a 38-23 lead into the locker room.

SNHU shot 54.5% (12-22) over the final 20 minutes after shooting 9-26 in the first half.  Merrimack was 63% (17-27) in the first half but was just 10-28 in the second half.  The Penmen went 11-12 at the free throw line and outrebounded Merrimack 31-27, while the Warriors went to the charity stripe just twice, missing both.  Southern New Hampshire was harmed by 23 turnovers that turned into 31 Merrimack points.

Southern New Hampshire returns to action Saturday when it travels to Saint Thomas Aquinas for a 1:00 non-conference contest.