NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - The Merrimack menâ€™s basketball team is in its first season as a Division-I program and itâ€™s been giving opposing teams in the Northeast Conference problems all season long.
Central Connecticut State can attest to that.
Juvaris Hayes led all scorers with 19 points and Devin Jensen chipped in 18 as the Warriors beat the Blue Devils 69-58 on Thursday night to sweep the season series and clinch the NECâ€™s regular season title.
Myles Baker and Greg Outlaw led CCSU with 12 and 10 points respectively as the Blue Devils (4-26, 3-14 NEC) have now lost their last 16 road games.
CCSU outrebounded Merrimack (20-11, 14-4 NEC) 46-29, but was once again plagued by turnovers and poor shooting. The Blue Devils coughed up the ball 19 times, which the Warriors turned into 22 points. CCSU, which shot just 33.3 percent from the field to Merrimackâ€™s 41.4 percent, forced just six turnovers which led to eight points.
The Blue Devils scored six straight points to tie the game 20-20 midway through the first half, but Merrimack responded with seven straight points and then held the Blue Devils scoreless over the final 2:12 of the first half. The Warriors scored the final five points of the period and a 3-pointer by Jaleel Lord just before the buzzer made it 40-30 at the break.
Merrimack scored the first four points and held CCSU to one field goal in the opening three minutes of the second half and a 3-pointer by Jensen gave the Warriors their largest lead of the game at 47-33 16:18 to play. It led to further struggles for CCSU, which went 1-for-5 from the field and was outscored 7-1 as Merrimack opened a 59-41 lead following Jensenâ€™s three.
Central was limited to a 1-of-12 shooting stretch and was unable to get closer than the final margin.