FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Juvaris Hayes had 17 points, eight steals and seven rebounds as Merrimack defeated Sacred Heart 65-57 on Thursday night.

Mikey Watkins had 16 points for Merrimack (7-7). Jaleel Lord added 12 points.

Merrimack scored the first 14 points of the second half and the Warriors’ lead peaked at 49-33 with 13:35 remaining. Sacred Heart cut the deficit to eight with 6:06 to go and was as close as five points, 62-57, with 1:21 remaining but did not score again.

Tyler Thomas had 18 points for the Pioneers (7-7, 0-1). Koreem Ozier added 14 points. E.J. Anosike had 4 points and 16 rebounds. Cameron Parker, who recently set the NCAA single-game assists record with 24, had more turnovers (8) than the Pioneers had assists (7). He had one assist.

The game was Merrimack’s Northeast Conference debut, although the Warriors’ games do not count in the league standings while they complete the transition to Division I.

Merrimack plays Robert Morris at home on Saturday. Sacred Heart faces Wagner on the road on Saturday.

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