Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball is back in action with a pair of home games against defending Northeast Conference regular season champion Merrimack. The two-game series starts with a 7 p.m. matchup tonight with the teams playing again on Friday at 4 p.m. Due to state and local health guidelines, spectators will not be permitted, but fans can watch the action on NEC Front Row with Adam Pohl calling the action.
Mount Update: The Mount returned to action after a 30-day break last week, dropping both games of its back-to-back NEC series at St. Francis Brooklyn. The Mount raced to a 39-31 halftime lead in the opening game of the series, but the Terriers held the Mount to 16 second-half points to rally for a 70-55 win. Damian Chong Qui paced the Mount with 17 points while Malik Jefferson added his seventh career double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds in the game. The Mount again held the lead at the half in the second game, this time by a narrow 28-26 margin. The Mount held a 28-20 lead before the Terriers scored the final six points of the half. In the second half, St. Francis Brooklyn took the lead for good at 40-39 and held on for the win. Damian Chong Qui scored 15 points while Nana Opoku added 11 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth career double-double in the loss.
Merrimack Update: Merrimack opened the season last week with a pair of home games against Sacred Heart. The Warriors won the opening game, 97-90, in overtime before falling in the second game, 68-62. The first two games provided a balanced scoring effort as five players are in double figures with one more at 9.5 points per game. Jordan Minor leads the team with 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds while Malik Edmead averaged 13.5 points off the bench. Ziggy Reid (13.0), Mikey Watkins (13.0 ppg, 5.5 apg), Mykel Derring (12.0) and Devin Jensen (9.5) round out the group. Merrimack won the NEC regular season title last year. The Warriors are averaging 79.5 points per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the field.
The All-Time Series: The Mount holds a 2-1 lead in the all-time series with Merrimack after the teams split last year’s matchups. The Mount won 65-57 at home on Feb. 23 while Merrimack posted a 64-61 win at home on January 9. Nana Opoku had a double-double in each game against Merrimack last year, averaging 18.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the two games. Malik Jefferson was also a force in the two games, averaging 15.5 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Taking Care of the Basketball: After committing a season-low six turnovers in the 75-57 win over Saint Francis U, the Mount averaged 17.5 turnovers per game last week in the two games against St. Francis Brooklyn. Overall this season, the Mount is averaging 14.3 turnovers per game, and has committed 17 or more turnovers in three of its past four matchups.
Rebounds: The Mount is the top defensive rebounding team in the Northeast Conference, collecting 77.0 percent of opponents misses on the year. In the three NEC games, that number improves to 79.6 percent. Overall, the Mount is outrebounding opponents by 1.4 boards per game this season.
Defense: The Mount leads the Northeast Conference in scoring defense (65.9) and is second in defensive efficiency (103.6) this season. In NEC play, the Mount is first in scoring defense (64.7), second in field goal percentage defense (.445) and first in effective field goal percentage defense (.458).
Up Next: The Mount visits Central Connecticut next week for a pair of Northeast Conference games. The teams open the two-game series with a 7 p.m. game on Thursday, January 21 and follow with a 4 p.m. matchup on Friday, January 22.