By Cameron Surette ‘18
The night before, heavy winds came to Merrimack. When people woke in the morning, they found that they had no power. Little to no buildings had power on campus, and no one could be found outside their rooms. But at 4 p.m., despite the powerless and cold atmosphere, Merrimack fans still lined up to board the fan bus for the men’s basketball game versus UCONN.
This game was a big deal for the school. UCONN is a Division I program, while Merrimack is Division II. At the game, the mood was electric. Although it was an exhibition game, Merrimack fans were there to show their support and hope for victory. In this exhibition game, it was a chance for Merrimack to strut their stuff against Division I UCONN.
The first half started. In the first 40 seconds, there was a steal by sophomore Juvaris Hayes. Then, Merrimack broke in the scoreboard first with a layup by junior Troy McLaughlin, assisted by Hayes. Not long after, UCONN answered back; evening the score at two. A little more than a minute later, a jump shot by senior Kyle Howes but Merrimack back in the lead. The beginning moments of the first half were becoming to be suspenseful and exciting. Could Merrimack defeat UCONN?
Approximately a quarter of the way into the first half, UCONN started to turn up the heat. They answered Merrimack’s jump shot with one of their own. They then proceeded to land two layups. Junior Ryan Boulter answered back, assisted by sophomore Idris Joyner. Up until the 10 minute mark, Merrimack and UCONN were neck and neck. When one team scored, the other would then retaliate. Merrimack was still in the game; fervent and strong.
But suddenly, UCONN started to take a wider lead. Six unanswered points were added to the board over the course of four minutes. Freshman Khalief Crawford closed the gap by scoring a three-pointer, assisted by Hayes. Then a layup assisted by Joyner. UCONN kept earning points and Merrimack’s scoring pace slowed. By the end of the first half, the score was 29 Merrimack, 40 UCONN.
The difference wasn’t too great. Merrimack could still come back. As fans waited for the next half to begin, fans were still hopeful and excited.
The second half had just started. Merrimack came to the court ready to play catch up. Within the first 20 seconds of the last half, a jump shot by redshirt senior, Tawayan Anderson, assisted by McLaughlin, made the score 31 to 40. 20 seconds or so later, a layup by Hayes closed the gap a bit more. UCONN fired back with 6 points earned over the course of a minute. Not much later, Joyner executed a tip-in. Then, Merrimack called for a timeout; came back, and earned another two points.
At that point, the score was 41 Merrimack, 48 UCONN. But after that, UCONN took over. UCONN continued to advance their lead. Merrimack racked up some points, too. But around the nine minute mark is where the game took a turn for the worse. For a span of close to four minutes, UCONN kept on the attack; scoring nine points.
Roughly five minutes remained in the game. UCONN was in the lead, 73 to Merrimack’s 50. Despite there being a sizable difference in score, Merrimack was not ready to call it quits. After a timeout with a few minutes left on the clock, Merrimack increased their intensity. Anderson landed two free throws, making the score 54 Merrimack, 75 UCONN. Hayes then did a layup. After a final two points tallied for UCONN, Merrimack gained seven points. Freshman, Devin Jensen did a three-pointer, assisted by Crawford in the last 30 seconds.
The final score was Merrimack 63, UCONN 79. Although the game ended in defeat, the Warriors fought hard. Besides a win, fans couldn’t ask for anything more than pure effort. The men’s basketball team is skilled, and the last three minutes of the game truly showed it.