Men's Basketball Falls 65-57 In NEC Opener

Tyler Thomas scored a career-high 18 points in his NEC debut, Thursday night. (Photo: Steve McLaughlin)
Tyler Thomas scored a career-high 18 points in his NEC debut, Thursday night. (Photo: Steve McLaughlin)

The Sacred Heart University men's basketball dropped its Northeast Conference season opener, 65-57, to visiting Merrimack College. The Pioneers fall to 7-7 on the year and 0-1 in league play, while the Warriors improve to 7-7 overall and 1-0 in NEC play.

Pioneers newcomer Tyler Thomas tallied a career-high 18 points, shooting 7-11 from the field, in the contest. E.J. Anosike collected 16 boards, a game-high. Juvaris Hayes led Merrimack with 17 points, eight steals, seven rebounds and six assists.

The Pioneers travel to Staten Island on Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. game at Wagner. The contest will air on SNY and NEC Front Row, with Paul Dottino and Dave Calloway calling the action.

Turning Point

  • Merrimack scored the first 14 points of the second-half, to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 44-31 lead
  • The Warriors forced six Pioneer turnovers and the Pioneers shot 0-3 during the stretch

Pioneer Points

  • Koreem Ozier tallied 14 points for the Pioneers, hitting 5-10 from the field, and collected five rebounds
  • Thomas drained 2-3 from behind the arc
  • Jare'l Spellman and Kinnon LaRose both recorded blocks in the game
  • The Pioneers shot 39.6 percent from the field, were 3-10 from behind the arc and 16-25 at the free throw line
  • SHU had seven assists and three steals

By The Numbers

  • Merrimack forced 18 Pioneer turnovers in the game and turned those into 31 points
  • SHU finished with a 43-29 advantage in rebounds, and a 16-10 edge on the offensive glass, that resulted in an 18-8 second chance point advantage
  • The Warriors also won the battle of the Paint, 38-22 and had a 24-13 edge in fast break points
  • Merrimack received 16 points from Mikey Watkins and a dozen from Jaleel Lord
  • Merrimack shot 43.1 percent from the floor, 5-21 from downtown and 10-16 from the charity stripe


  • The Warriors tallied the first four points of the game
  • Spellman put the Pioneers on the board at 17:25 with a hook shot
  • After a Jaleel Lord basket, Ozier knocked down a pair of free throws, to make the deficit a pair, 6-4
  • After a Mikey Watkins basket, Parker hit a free throw and Zach Pfaffenberger scored on the break to bring SHU within a point, 8-7 (13:47)
  • Lord scored 26 seconds later to make the Merrimack lead, 10-7
  • Thomas scored six straight points for the Pioneers to turn a three-point deficit into a 13-10 advantage
  • A Thomas step-back gave the Pioneers a 16-13 advantage, but was answered by a Devin Jensen with 10:03 to play in the half, tied the score, 16-16
  • Thomas hit a three at the 8:21 mark, to put the Pioneers in front 19-16
  • Merrimack scored the next 11 points, to take a 27-19 lead at 6:07
  • A pair of Aaron Clarke free throws ended the run, and was followed at 5:04 by an Anosike jumper from the free throw to cut the deficit in half
  • Ozier collected an offensive rebound and put the ball back in to close within 27-25, at the 3:57 mark
  • Ozier tied the game with a driving layup at 3:09 and hit the free throw after the media timeout to put the Pioneers back in front, 28-27
  • Thomas three from the top of the key put SHU in front 31-27
  • Jensen answered with a three with 53 seconds left, to make the score 31-30 in favor of the Pioneers, which would be the halftime score


  • Jensen drained a three on the opening possession of the half, to put Merrimack in front 33-31
  • Juvaris Hayes recorded a steal and went coast-to-coast for a lay-up and 35-31 advantage
  • Idris Joyner made the run 7-0 with a basket at 17:52
  • Lord had a conventional three-point play at 17:21 to push the lead to 40-31
  • Joyner scored a Lord pass at 16:45 and Watkins scored at 16:17 to push the run to 14-0 at force a Pioneer timeout
  • Pfaffenberger ended the pioneers scoring drought with a free throw at 15:19
  • Hayes converted an and-one at 14:24 to make the lead 47-32 and Jordan Minor followed a LaRose free throw with a basket in the paint with 13:35 to play to make it 49-33
  • Kinnon LaRose knocked down a three at the 13:01 mark, for the Pioneers first field goal of the half and started span of 7:04 in which the Pioneers shot 5-9 from the field and outscored Merrimack 16-8
  • Anosike rebounded a missed free throw, that turned into an Ozier basket, to bring the Pioneers within 12, 51-39
  • Clarke hit two free throws, after a Warriors turnover, to make the deficit 10, 51-41, with 11:02 to play
  • Joyner and Hayes twice, pushed the lead back to 16, 57-41, with 8:23 remaining
  • The Pioneers rallied again, scoring eight straight, in 93 seconds to close within eight points, 57-49
  • Anosike made the deficit six points with 4:50 to play, 57-51, before Watkins knocked down a three pointer as the shot clock expired to quell the SHU run, and push the lead to 60-51
  • SHU would close within five points on a Parker free throw with 81 seconds remaining, before Merrimack finished the final 29 seconds 3-4 from the stripe as SHU missed its final two shots and committed a turnover