The Merrimack College Warriors (7-16, 5-4), winners of their last two games, welcomed the top team in the Northeast Conference Fairleigh Dickerson (14-10, 7-2) to Hammel Court on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors started out fast, building ten-point leads on three occasions in the first half. But the league leaders stayed calm, taking the Warriors’ best shot and then delivering their own in the second half to get a big road win 78-71 over Merrimack. FDU’s comeback was led by point guard Grant Singleton who had a game-high 27 points to go along with six assists and four steals. In the second half, Singleton was the game’s best player on the court.
The game did not start out well for the visitors. In fact, Merrimack had chances to run FDU out of the building. It started in the game’s opening minutes. The Warriors went on a 10-1 run to give fans who had arrived early something to get excited about. Devon Savage had five of his 14 points in this opening run including the game’s first basket on a left-corner three. Forward Ziggy Reid (16 points), with a basket and one, gave his team an 8-0 lead two minutes into the game. Jordan Minor (a double-double of 15 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocked shots) finished off the run at the foul line by hitting two free throws. At the first media timeout, the Warriors were up by seven at 10-3 with 15:29 to go. FDU did what it could to stay close in the first half getting within one on a three-pointer by Demetre Roberts to make it 13-12 MC with 11:02 left. That was part of a 9-2 run by Fairleigh Dickinson.
The rest of the half belonged to Merrimack, Their first ten-point lead came at 22-12 on a layup in the paint by Minor with 8:43 to go. A Savage three-ball gave the Warriors an eleven-point lead at 25-14 and forced FDU to call timeout with 6:55 left. Merrimack went back up by eleven at 33-22 behind five straight points from Jordan Derkack (11 points). After knocking down two free throws, he would convert a three-point play off a steal from Reid. The Warriors biggest lead was twelve on another FT by Minor, 36-24 with 1:09 before the half. Jo’el Emanuel finished off the first half scoring by taking the ball coast to coast and laying it in to get FDU within ten at 36-26 Merrimack.
Merrimack, who shot 50% from both the three-point land and from the field, should have been feeling pretty good about themselves. They had the league leaders on the ropes and they just needed to finish the job. However, FDU had other ideas. They outscored the Warriors 23-13 to erase the halftime deficit and tied the game at 49-49 with 11:57 left in the game. This is where Grant Singleton started to take the game over. During this stretch, Singleton had five points and three assists putting his team on his back and delivering. He was getting help from Joe Munden Jr. (13 points) who had seven early second-half points. The game was starting to flip Fairleigh Dickerson’s way. FDU took their first lead of the game on a Singleton three 52-51 with 10:43 left. Ansley Almonor (10 points) and Singleton knocked down shots from deep to keep the three-point lead for FDU at 58-55 with 7:34 to go. From there, Merrimack would never regain the lead or tie the game. Another three by Singleton pushed the lead to seven at 69-62 with 4:20 left. The closest the Warriors got was three a couple of times in the closing minutes. FDU outscored Merrimack 52-35 in the second half to win by seven 78-71.
When one looks at the box score from this game, several things may jump out at you. First, both teams turned the ball over 20 times. FDU was better at the free throw line going 20-of-25 to Merrimack’s 10-of-18. FDU outscored the Warriors bench 18-6 and were even with points in the paint 30-30. This was a game of runs. In the end, Fairleigh Dickerson made the ones that counted most. Minor’s double-double is his eighth of the season. Singleton’s 27 points matched his career high for Fairleigh Dickerson. It was also the Knight’s first win at Merrimack since 2019.
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