NEW BRITAIN â€“ Merrimack menâ€™s basketball beat Central Connecticut State Saturday afternoon, winning 66-57 in an empty Detrick Gymnasium due to COVID protocols.
The win is the fifth in a row for Merrimack, who move to 8-8 on the season with a 4-0 Northeast Conference record. Central goes to 4-12 with a 1-2 Northeast Conference record.
The Blue Devils battled through a tough Merrimack defense in the first half, cutting down a nine point lead before taking its first lead of the game at 6:32 off free throws by Jayden Brown to make it 21-19. The lead was short lived, with Nick Filchner answering 12 seconds later, but Ian Krishnan returned the favor for CCSU with a three to put the Blue Devils ahead by two.
Steph Ayangmaâ€™s free throw gave Central its largest lead of the day at three (27-24) with 5:06 to go in the first half, but another Filchner triple evened it back up. The Warriors extneded its lead entering the break, and saw CCSU match it only once in the second half at 35-35.
A 10-0 run through the second half gave Merrimack the cushion it needed to pull out the win. The lead grew to as much as 13, but settled around 10 for a bulk of the 20 minute period as Central struggled from the field against a strong Merrimack defense.
Central was ledin scoring by Ian Krishnanâ€™s 18 points, going 7 of 12 from the field with four 3-point scores. Nigel Scantlebury had 13 points with Ayangma scoring eight.
Saturday marked the return of four key players for CCSU who were out due to COVID issues over the last three games. Scantlebury, Tre Mitchell, Zack Newkirk and Jayden Brown all played Saturday in a day where CCSU played with a short bench.
Leading the scoring for Merrimack was Ziggy Reid with 10 points. Mikey Watkins had 17 points.