Sports Editor and Photographer
Last night, the Merrimack College Men’s Basketball team competed in their first Division 1 Playoff game in school history in Lawler Arena against Long Island University. The Warriors are ranked number one in the Northeast Conference and the Sharks are ranked number eight. This season the Warriors are 2-0 against the Sharks. On February 2nd, the Warriors beat the Sharks 76 to 59 and beat them during the last game of the regular season 80 to 59. Last night, the Warriors continued their win streak against the Sharks by defeating them 91 to 76.
At the beginning of the game, the Warriors started out hot and took the lead. Whenever LIU scored, Merrimack responded immediately to maintain and increase their lead. The Warriors were quick on their feet and when they needed to adapt or make changes they did so with flying colors. There is a reason why they are the number one seed in the NEC. They are great at transitioning from defense to offense and can make great decisions on the fly. The first period was electric with two merrimack players scoring in the double digits. Senior Ziggy Reid scored twenty points and Freshman #2 Javon Bennett scored fifteen points. An honorable mention for being a high scorer in the first is Senior #22 Jordon Minor, who scored 9 points. At 5:13 left in the first, LIU’s Jake Cook and Merrimack’s Jordan Derkack collided near LIU’s basket, which caused the game to stop. Both players ended up recovering from the hard hit and Jordan Derkack of Merrimack was able to come back into the game at the end of the first period. Jake Cook of LIU was able to come back into the game during the second period. Both continued to play for the remainder of the game. At the end of the first period, Merrimack held a lead over LIU 54 to 33.
At the beginning of the second period, Merrimack came out swinging and they continued to maintain their lead over LIU. LIU started to close the score gap for a short time, but Merrimack was able to continue to expand their lead. Senior Ziggy Reid continued to dominate with thirteen points, resulting in him scoring thirty-three points for the game, freshman Javon Bennet scored an additional eleven points, resulting in him scoring twenty-six points for the game, and Senior Jordan Minor scored an additional eight points, bringing his total points for the game to seventeen. These three players combined scored 72.52 percent of Merrimack’s total points for the game. The final score was 91 Merrimack College and 76 Long Island University. The Warriors will move forward to the NEC Men’s Basketball Semi-finals on March 4th at 6pm at Hammel Court to face off against the number four seed Sacred Heart University Pioneers. Make sure to come out to support the team in their pursuit of winning the 2023 NEC Men’s Basketball Championship.