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Men's Basketball: Penmen survive overtime test

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 22. 2017 1:18AM

SNHU's Chris Walters battles for the hoop against Merrimack's Tawayne Anderson Jr, at SNHU in Manchester on Tuesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Early-season tests aren’t something the Southern New Hamphire University men’s basketball team has shied away from in recent seasons. If anything, the battles have made the Penmen stronger.

Tuesday’s 84-79 overtime win over Northeast-10 Conference foe Merrimack at the SNHU Fieldhouse will certainly go down as a shot in the arm for the Penmen. It was not the prettiest effort for SNHU, which saw its share of peaks and valleys throughout the night, but a grinding effort in overtime helped the Penmen escape victorious.

Chris Walters scored seven of his game-high 27 points as part of SNHU’s 15-10 overtime. SNHU (5-0, 3-0 NE-10) started to space the game out with a Daquaise Andrews trey and a pair of Walters buckets, which made it 76-71. The second basket for Walters started a 7-0 stretch that got the Penmen up by as many as 10 before ending up with the five-point win.

Walters and Andrews each produced double-doubles, as Walters added 11 rebounds with his points, and Andrews posted 20 points and 13 boards. Dimitri Floras, of Merrimack, added 18 points for the Penmen. Juvarius Hayes paced the Warriors with 25 points.

Merrimack forced the extra period after SNHU got itself a four-point lead with a minute to play. Ryan Boulter cut the deficit in half before Idris Joyner tied the game at 69-69 on a baseline lay-in with 28 seconds to play. Floras tossed up a runner on SNHU’s final possession in regulation that caught the back of the rim and rolled off just before the buzzer.

SNHU went down 6-0 in the opening minutes of the contest before Penmen coach Stan Spirou called timeout and got on his team’s case. The Penmen went on to take their first lead and get up by 10 at 25-15 with 9:21 left in the frame. Spirou’s words during the timeout undoubtedly left their mark based on SNHU’s improved play, which was highlighted by an 16-2 run at one point.

The lead lasted into halftime but the double-digit edge SNHU held slipped to two points at the break. While the Penmen came out of the locker room sluggish again, Merrimack embarked on a 10-2 run over the first five minutes of the second half. That run, which got the Warriors a 47-41 lead, included a six-point swing in under a minute, featuring back-to-back Merrimack layups between a steal.

SNHU answered the deficit with a five-point swing from Andrews that tied things at 49-49. The last 14:11 of regulation was a nip-and-tuck affair as neither team had a lead greater than six points.