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Warriors Basketball falls to Sacred Heart in Final Regular Season game.

Jack Lawhorne – Student Reporter

NORTH ANDOVER, Ma. – Merrimack Men’s Basketball came into March looking to close out the regular season in perfect fashion. Following a blowout win at FDU, to finish February undefeated for the second year in a row, The Warriors had the chance to triumph to their 20th win of the season at Sacred Heart on Saturday afternoon.

This matchup against Sacred Heart was a meaningful one, holding playoff implications. With a win, Merrimack would clinch home court advantage through the NEC Tournament. With a loss and Central Connecticut right on their tail, the Warriors risked losing superiority in the NEC. Locked into the 3rd seed in the NEC at 15-15, Sacred Heart was not a team to look past.

In the end, Merrimack’s luck ran out. Sacred Heart won, 89-85, spoiling the Warriors milk.

SHU started out strong. The Pioneers went on an early 10-0 run to give themselves an eight point lead with 11:05 to play in the half, but Merrimack quickly responded with their own 13-0 run to take the lead for themselves.

Jordan Derkack stood out in a strong fashion in the first half, tallying 18 points. Samba Diallo was a prominent contributor for the Warriors in the first half as well, adding eight points. Merrimack led by one at the half, 42-41.

Early in the second half, a quick turnaround happened when SHU went on a 7-0 run to give themselves a 10 point lead. Simultaneously, Devon Savage appeared to be injured, but he returned. A 9-0 Warrior run helped close the gap, but it was not as dominant of a second half as Merrimack is accustomed to.

With just over four minutes to play and the Warriors down three, Jordan Derkack posted up his man, drew all the defensive attention, and dished a dime to a wide open Bryan Etemnu who knocked down the game-tying three. Etemnu knocked down another huge three two minutes later.

https://twitter.com/nechoops/status/1764028274093515018

Down six with just over 40 seconds remaining, Jordan Derkack knocked down an immediate pull-up three, but it ended up not being enough, as Sacred Heart pulled away with a 89-85 win.

The Warriors, with this loss, were spoiled of any hopes of home court advantage throughout the NEC tournament. Central Connecticut, after trailing the Warriors all season in the standings, somehow ended up with the #1 seed. Along with that, they’re crowned regular season champions.

Merrimack needs to regroup and defend their title in the NEC tournament if they want a chance of making the dance at March Madness.

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