EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Devin Jensen had 23 points and Juvaris Hayes had 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, lifting Merrimack to a stunning 71-61 victory over Northwestern on Friday night in just its second game as a Division I team.
Merrimack (1-1) trailed 55-50 with 9½ minutes remaining before taking command with a 17-4 run to open a 67-59 advantage with just under a minute to go.
Merrimack lost 84-64 in its opener Wednesday at Maine.
Pete Nance had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Northwestern in its season opener.
Northwestern lost its top three scorers from last season — Vic Law (15 points per game), Dererk Pardon (14) and Ryan Taylor (9.8) — and played three freshman and two redshirt freshmen on Friday. The Wildcats struggled to find any consistency on offense.
Northwestern scored just 26 points on 10-for-30 shooting in the second half.
NU’s Miller Kopp scored the game’s first eight points to get Northwestern off to a fast start, but Merrimack rallied for a 26-24 lead on a 3-pointer by Ziggy Reid with just over eight minutes left in the first half.
Jensen had 17 first-half points as Merrimack took a 36-35 halftime lead.
Northwestern was able to open a five-point lead on two occasions in the second half, but Merrimack kept rallying.
Merrimack: The Warriors had a lot of success recently on the Division II level and showed they can compete on the Division I level in this one. They clearly were the more-poised team down the stretch.
Northwestern: Nearly three years removed from a 20-12 record and the school’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats are in the early stages of a massive rebuild and will be hard pressed to match last season’s 13 wins.
Merrimack plays Dartmouth on Nov. 15 at Lowell, Mass.
Northwestern hosts Providence on Wednesday as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
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