NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Aaron Strothers led four Merrimack College players in double figures with 15 points as the Warriors held off a late Southern New Hampshire University rally for a 62-59 Northeast-10 men's basketball victory Saturday afternoon at Hammel Court. The Warriors improved to 15-10 overall and 12-9 in the NE-10, while the Penmen are 12-14 and 8-13 in the league.
Strothers finished 6-10 from the floor to pace a balanced attack. Mike Clifford totaled 13 points and 16 rebounds, while Wilfredo Pagan and Roland Davis added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Elijah Bonsignore (Felton, Del.) led Southern New Hampshire with a career-high 20 points, finishing 8-13 from the floor and 4-7 behind the arc while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking a pair of shots. Tory Stapleton (Rahway, N.J.) totaled 15 points and nine rebounds, while BJ Cardarelli (Manchester, Conn.) added eight points.
Southern New Hampshire trailed 49-42 with just over seven minutes to go when it used a 10-2 run to take a 52-51 lead on a Stapleton basket with 3:41 remaining. Davis made a pair at the line on the next Merrimack possession to give the hosts the lead, but a Stapleton layup with 2:20 left put SNHU up 54-53.
A three by Wayne Mack with 2:01 left put Merrimack up for good, 56-54. Merrimack held a 61-56 lead when Phillip Tripodakis (Athens, Greece) knocked down a three with 13 seconds left to pull Southern New Hampshire within two, 61-59. Mack would be fouled and made 1-of-2 at the line, with the Penmen getting the rebound on the second shot. Cardarelli would get a look at a game-tying three as time expired, but his attempt was off the mark.
The Penmen trailed 31-25 at halftime but used an early 8-1 run to take a 33-32 lead on a Bonsignore basket with 16:29 left. The two teams traded the lead three times, with the hosts taking a 38-37 lead on a Strothers basket with 14:18 to go.
SNHU scored the game's first five points and led 14-11 when Merrimack scored eight unanswered points to build a 19-14 lead with 12:17 to go before halftime on a Tyler Young basket. The Warriors lead 21-19 when they used another 8-0 run to take a 29-19 lead with just under six minutes left before intermission. The Penmen scored six of the final eight points of the half and Bonsignore basket four seconds before the buzzer made it a 31-25 game at the break.
Merrimack took 16 more trips to the free throw line than Southern New Hampshire, going 14-22 at the charity stripe while the Penmen converted four of their six attempts. The Warriors, who outrebounded SNHU 41-34, shot 41.5% from the floor while limiting the guests to 38.3% shooting for the contest.
Southern New Hampshire closes out its season Tuesday night when it travels to Saint Michael's College for a 7:30 game.