January 15, 2013

MERRIMACK RALLIES PAST MEN’S BASKETBALL, 65-59

North Andover, Mass. – Gelvis Solano hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:36 remaining as Merrimack College rallied for a 65-59 win over the Le Moyne College men's basketball team on Tuesday night in Northeast-10 Conference action at Bert Hammel Court.

Le Moyne (7-7, 4-6 NE-10) was led offensively by junior forward Brian Zapisek (Manlius, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius), who had 18 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Freshman guard Qwadere Lovell (Mount Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon) came off the bench to score 11 points, dish out three assists and record four steals. Senior guard Gamal Mohamed (North Plainfield, N.J./Immaculata) led all players in the game with a career-high nine rebounds.

Solano finished the game with six points, four rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. Kevin Regan led the Warriors with 16 points, while JT Strickland tallied 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. The starting frontcourt of Mike Clifford and Tyler Young combined for 17 points and 17 rebounds.

After Zapisek hit a three-pointer with 16:57 remaining in the first half to give the Dolphins a 7-6 lead, the Warriors scored nine straight points over the next 2:42. Clifford had the first four points, Troy Hammel followed with two free throws and then Strickland nailed a three-pointer.

The Dolphins countered with a 7-2 run to cut their deficit to 17-14 with 10:32 remaining in the half. Sophomore forward Ryan Romich (Groton, Mass./Groton-Dunstable/Vermont Academy) started the push with a tip-in, freshman forward Connor Mahoney (Hanover, Mass./BC High/Brooks School) followed with a three-pointer and then junior center Jim Janson (Scotia, N.Y./Scotia-Glenville) converted two free throws.

Merrimack (7-8, 4-6 NE-10) then scored 23 of the next 28 points to take its largest lead of the half. Regan led the charge with nine points, while Strickland and Hammel each added five points. After Lovell ended a span of 4:37 without a field goal, Young made a free throw with 16 seconds left to give the Warriors a 41-21 lead at halftime.

After the teams split the first 14 points of the second half over the opening 4:14, the Dolphins recorded an 8-2 run to pull within 50-36 with 13:34 remaining. Zapisek had six of the seven points in the first stretch, while Lovell and Zapisek nailed three-pointers and senior guard Derrek Tartt (Chicago, Ill./Oak Park Fenwick/UAlbany) made a fast-break lay-up in the 8-2 spurt.

Following a lay-up by Clifford with 12:50 left that gave the Warriors a 52-36 advantage, the Dolphins rattled off 23 straight points to take the lead. Tartt ignited the run with a traditional three-point play, Janson followed with a lay-up and a put-back dunk and then Zapisek drilled his fourth three-pointer of the half to pull the Dolphins within six with 9:06 remaining. Lovell then stole the ball and turned it into a lay-up, Zapisek connected on another three-pointer and then Lovell gave the Dolphins the lead with a lay-up at the 7:07 mark. Romich pushed the lead to three with a lay-up, Lovell hit a jumper near the right block then Romich capped the streak with a tip-in with 4:43 left.

After being held scoreless for nine minutes and 24 seconds, the Warriors scored the game's final 13 points over the last 3:27, during which time the Dolphins missed five shots and committed three turnovers. Clifford ended the scoring drought with a free throw and Regan followed with a three-pointer with 2:53 to go to end a span of 9:58 without a field goal. Clifford then made a lay-up with 2:19 remaining to get the Warriors within 59-58.

Following a missed lay-up by the Dolphins, Solano nailed a three-pointer, his second in eight attempts, from the left wing to put Merrimack in front. After Le Moyne missed a three-pointer, Strickland beat the shot clock with a reverse lay-up to extend Merrimack's lead to four. Hammel finished off the game's scoring with two free throws with 19.3 seconds remaining.

Le Moyne, which won the previous two meetings with the Warriors, returns home to face Stonehill College on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.