Big Opening Enough as Merrimack Tops Men's Basketball, 91-84

Senior Carter Smith led the Skyhawks with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Hammel leads Warriors to second straight win with 28 points  

EASTON, Mass. (February 9, 2016) – Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's D2SIDA Top 25 poll and ranked third in the D2SIDA East Regional poll, dug a hole larger than it could escape in dropping a 91-84 decision to Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Senior Troy Hammel (Valencia, California/Valencia) fired Merrimack to the win with 28 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-for-6 from three-point distance, while converting all ten free-throw to go with six rebounds and two steals. Classmate JT Strickland (Laurel, Maryland/Georgetown Prep) added 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 1-for-2 from three and connecting on 4-of-5 free-throws, four rebounds and two assists. Senior Gelvis Solano (New York, New York/Health Professions) registered 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals, while junior Anthony Barry (Uxbridge, Massachusetts/Brooks School) collected 12 points and six boards. Sophomore Ken Howes (Maynard, Massachusetts/Lawrence Academy) chipped in ten points on 4-of-6 shooting, and six rebound off the bench.

Senior Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) led Stonehill with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 5-for-11 from beyond the arc, with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shot. Senior Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet Regional) added 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-for-8 from three-point distance, and two rebounds, while classmate Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) posted a double-double for the third straight game with his eighth of the year (12th career) as he collected 16 points, 11 rebounds (four offensive), two assists, two blocked shot and a steal.

Senior Adam Bramanti connected on 4-of-8 three-pointers for 19 points tonight. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Merrimack shot 46.8-percent from the field (29-for-62), including 51.4% (18-25) in the first half to roll out to a big first half lead. The Warriors buried 8-of-18 three-pointers (44.4%), including 7-for-12 (58.3%) in the first half, while converting 25-of-34 (73.5%) free-throws. Merrimack also held a 40-35 rebounding edge, helping aid an 11-5 advantage in second chance points. Stonehill connected at 44.4% (28-63) from the floor, including 14-for-32 (43.8%) from beyond the arc, while converting 14-of-19 (73.7%) free-throws.

Merrimack charged out to a 12-0 lead just three-minutes into the game after a three-point play by Barry. Solano opened the scoring with a three-pointer and Strickland also converted a three-point play during the opening stretch. Stonehill cut the lead in half (12-6) after a Bramanti triple 5:14 into the half.

Solano sparked a 14-2 run over the next four minutes with a three-pointer that extended the Merrimack lead to 18 (26-8) after another Solano triple with 11:52 remaining in the half. The Warriors advantage crept to 20 (36-16) after a Strickland three with 9:30 remaining. Stonehill still trailed by 19 after two Barry free-throws with 5:47 to play in the frame, but was able to go into halftime trailing by just 13 (51-38).

Stonehill worked the lead down to six (55-49) after a layup from sophomore Joel Berroa (Lawrence, Massachusetts/Central Catholic) with 14:21 remaining. Merrimack answered with ten straight points to restore its 16 point lead (65-49) after three Solano free-throws midway thought the half. The Skyhawks scratched back within nine (75-66) on a Bramanti triple with 5:11 remaining and then closed within eight (77-69) on another Bramanti three with 2:32 on the clock.

Merrimack answered each Stonehill push, which cut the gap to just six (85-79) after a Logan three with 52-seconds to go and then five (86-81) following two Smith free-throws with 38-seconds remaining. The Skyhawks would get no closer, with Merrimack answering from there at the free-throw line to seal the win.

Stonehill (17-6, 12-5 NE-10) is back in action on Saturday when it hosts Assumption College for an NE-10 clash at Merkert Gym at 1:30 p.m. Merrimack (13-10, 8-9 NE-10) hosts Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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