Merrill scores 27 as the Raiders win against Delta College, 71-61
By Kevin Lopez
After a bounce back victory on the road, the Raiders maintained their momentum on the road as they defeated Delta Community College 71-61 on Wednesday, February 2nd.
From the opening tip, the Raiders immediately pounced on the Pioneers as they were able to completely knock them out with their defense, forcing 10 turnovers in the first quarter and limiting the competition to just 10 shot attempts. The Raiders also completely overwhelmed the Pioneers on the glass with nine offensive rebounds that gave the Raiders more options with 12 points in the paint.
Sally Merrill, a sophomore forward, had seven points in the first quarter, including a three, while Grace Lodes, a sophomore, led with nine points of her own by making pick and rolls, using post-moves and took advantage of free throws. The Raiders led 23-7 in the first quarter.
The second quarter was a struggle offensively for the Raiders as they failed to put the ball in the basket as they shot 4 of 17. Still, they continued their efforts on defense, again forcing six turnovers in the quarter and catching two offensive rebounds. That stopped any chance for their opponent to take advantage as the Raiders choked them with back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore guard Marlene Bussler and sophomore guard Emersyn Koepke that made it possible for GRCC to take the lead 36-21 at half.
Early in the third quarter it was more of a back and forth battle as neither team really took over or dominated in anything in particular being even on the glass and both teams had active hands on defense, both with five turnovers. Still, the Raiders were able to score more points in the quarter as they had 13 points on 35% of the field while holding their opponents on nine points on 28% shooting to take a 49-30 lead.
The fourth quarter was a nightmare for the Raiders as their opponent made a strong comeback on offense and defense. The Raiders gave up nine times, and the Pioneers had 13 points from those turnovers. The Pioneers scored 31 points in the quarter while shooting a searing 75% from the field. With a three-pointer from the Pioneers, they were able to reduce the lead to just four points.
The Raiders were able to get the game out of range with their free throws as they hit 24 free throws and caught 16 of them. Bussler and Merrill each had free throws on the stretch in the last 22 seconds for a combined seven points to put the game out of reach and secure the victory for the Raiders, 71-61.
Merrill finished the game with 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds.
“We’re always ready and excited to be the underdog,” Merrill said. “It definitely feels great to bring that win into the weekend, especially on the road. Our mentality is always stay the same so just play hard and play our game.”
The win improves the Raiders record to 10-6, bringing their conference record to 4-2 and their road record to 4-5.
GRCC head coach David Glazier is keen to continue the success of his team
“It will be nice to be back home at Ford Fieldhouse,” said Glazier. “I haven’t spent much time with (NCMC) but we have to be ready to compete.”
The Raiders return home 5-1 to take on North Central Michigan College on February 4 at 1:00 p.m. at the Ford Fieldhouse.