Having spent the month of November for the most part on the road, the Merrimack College Warriors (1-9) were hoping to take advantage of some home cooking to get themselves back on track. Trying to stop a seven-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon would not be easy, as they were facing the defending champions of America East, the Vermont Catamounts (4-7), who themselves have done some traveling to begin the season.
There was no question that both teams could use a victory with conference play not far away. Both teams have had a difficult non-conference schedule to this point. The beginning of this game showed the troubles both teams have had putting the ball in the basket. At the 15:52 mark, Vermont was in possession of a 6-2 lead thanks to a four-point play from Aaron Deloney. By the second media timeout, Merrimack had taken the lead once on a 3-pointer off the bench from Jaylen Stinson. Vermont quickly took the lead back on a three from TJ Hurley from the left corner to make it 9-7 Vermont eight minutes in. Vermont started to warm to the task as the half hit the mid-way point. The 3-ball was doing the trick. Deloney twice, Hurley and Finn Sullivan once each, put together a 12-0 Catamounts runs that gave them a 21-7 lead. The run was stopped by a three-ball from Javon Bennett of the Warriors. With seven minutes left, Vermont was up eleven at 21-10. Vermont kept pouring it on from deep, Sullivan twice more, and Sam Alamuto from the right wing. It was 34-11 Vermont and coach Joe Gallo was forced to call time with four minutes to go to slow down the Catamounts. It may have half worked to a point, as the first half ended and Vermont had a 37-15 lead. The Catamounts were deadly from deep shooting 9-of-18 (50%) while the Warriors shot just 16.7%, 2-of-12. Deloney and Sullivan did the damage for Vermont. Deloney had 10, and Sullivan had 12 first-half points. Merrimack had plenty of work to do in the second half to get back in this one.
Jordan Minor with five points tried to get Merrimack back into the game. With 15:14 left the deficit for the Warriors was at 44-23. After the media timeout, another Hurley 3-point bomb turned into a 4-point play thanks to a Warrior fold by Dillon Savage. With 11:35 to play Vermont was up 48-27. The Catamounts were in complete control. They made the trip down from Burlington, Vermont a successful one as they handed the Warriors their eighth straight loss. The final score from Lawler Arena was Vermont 66 and Merrimack 43. Jordan Minor had a big second half and finished with a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds. He was the only Merrimack player in double figures. Vermont was led by Finn Sullivan with 17 points (4-of-11 from deep), TJ Hurley with 14 (4-of-6 from 3-point land), Aaron Deloney with 13, and Dylan Penn had 11. Next up for Merrimack is a quick trip to San Francisco to play the Dones on Wednesday night.
For Vermont, this was by far their best 40 minutes of basketball to date. They will need to keep this going with league play right around the corner.
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