Men’s Basketball Loses NE-10 Final


Junior Elijah Bailey goes up against Merrimack in NE-10 Final: Photo Courtesy Anthony Gangemi

Chris DiGeronimo, Sports Editor

Men’s basketball suffered a heartbreaking defeat Saturday as they lost to the Merrimack Warriors 51-46 for the NE-10 Conference Championship. The Chargers fought to the final buzzer, but two costly turnovers in the final seconds sealed the defeat for New Haven.

Both teams came out in the first half ready to win, and neither team was able to gain a distinct advantage. Merrimack’s zone defense took away the Chargers’ ability to drive to the basket, forcing them to settle for low percentage shots. Redshirt sophomore Derrick Rowland connected on four of his first, five three-pointers to give the Chargers some breathing room. Rowland would finish the half with 12 points to lead all scorers. New Haven finished the half shooting 33 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point range. Merrimack finished the half with almost identical numbers shooting 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from behind the arc. The statistic that identified the two teams from each other was the number of turnovers. New Haven finished the half with 11 while the Warriors finished with only six. The Chargers would go into the half trailing 24-22.

The Chargers were able to take the lead in the second half, but Merrimack was always in striking distance. They went back and forth, bucket for bucket, foul for foul, layup for layup, everything on the line. New Haven was able to infiltrate the Warriors’ pesky zone defense by getting to the basket and getting to the foul line. Junior Kessley Felizor stepped up in the second half going 4-5 from the field with eight points, all coming inside the arc. Junior Elijah Bailey also stepped up scoring seven of his 11 points in the final 20 minutes. The Chargers got out to their biggest lead of the day on a Bailey jump shot to push the Chargers lead to seven. The lead was quickly diminished by two Merrimack three-pointers and some New Haven fouls that put Merrimack on the line.

With New Haven down 47-44 with 1:43 to go, Felizor came with a layup to bring the Chargers within one. After a failed offensive possession by Merrimack, freshman Quashawn Lane took the ball up the court, looked right, and passed it right into the teeth of the Merrimack defense. The Chargers quickly fouled and sent Merrimack to the line to shoot two. After two free throws by Merrimack to make it 49-46, the Chargers had 10 seconds to win the game or send it to overtime. With the crowd on their feet, Rowland raced with the ball up the court. Rowland looked around, made a pass and it was again stolen by Merrimack to seal the win for the Warriors.

New Haven received the No. 4 seed in the upcoming NCAA DII National Championship Tournament. They will play No. 5 Daemen College on Saturday, March 16. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.