New to Division I, Merrimack takes out Northwestern

Playing in only its second Division 1 game, Merrimack pulled off the upset of the young season, defeating host Northwestern 71-61 in Evanston, Ill., on Friday. It was the season opener for the Wildcats.

The Warriors (1-1) went into the half up 36-35 after Devin Jensen went off for 17 first-half points, including five 3-pointers. The Wildcats (0-1) weren't able to pull away in the second half as Merrimack never gave up against its Big Ten foe.

Freshman forward Miller Kopp scored the game's first eight points to give Northwestern a great start. But after that outburst, the Wildcats never held as large of a lead again.

Merrimack played its usual 2-3 zone, and after Kopp's initial run, the zone started to stifle Northwestern. Led by Jensen, the Warriors eased their way back, taking a 26-24 lead at the 8:21 mark on a 3-pointer by Ziggy Reid.

The two teams went back-and-forth for the rest of the half, but Jensen hit his fifth 3-pointer with about a minute left to put Merrimack up 36-35.

After the half, Northwestern's Pat Spencer -- playing in his first college basketball game after an All-American lacrosse career at Loyola Maryland -- hit three shots in the first 4 1/2 minutes and the Wildcats rebuilt the lead to 46-41.

Merrimack recovered to take a 57-55 lead with just over six minutes remaining and continued to hold the lead as Mikey Watkins and Juvaris Hayes -- who finished with 19 points -- hit clutch layups.

Jensen scored a game-high 23 points by shooting 8 of 15 from the field, including 7 of 14 from beyond the arc. Jensen averaged only 1.9 points per game for the Warriors last season when they played in Division II level. His previous career high was 10 points.

Pete Nance led Northwestern with 19 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds. Spencer had 10 points.

--Field Level Media

11/09/2019 3:29

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