WALTHAM, Mass. – Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) scored a team-high 19 points in the Philadelphia University men's basketball team's 72-69 loss to Merrimack in the second day of the Bentley Tip-Off Classic Saturday evening in the Dana Center.
Johnson, one of four Rams (0-2) in to score in double figures, shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
TJ Huggins (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) posted 14 points and a career-best 15 rebounds to record his third career triple-double. Nick Schlitzer (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsville) added 18 points, while Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) contributed 11 points.
Philadelphia used an early 13-1 run, which included seven points from Schlitzer, over a 3:21 span to get out to a 15-4 lead on an Alexis layup at the 13:55 mark. The Rams shot 5-of-7 from the field during the surge, while the Warriors (0-2) were 0-of-5.
The advantage grew to 26-13 with 6:17 left in the half thanks to two made Andre Gibbs (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) free throws. After the Warriors cut the margin to 26-16, the Rams rattled off six consecutive points, capped off with a Schlitzer layup, to stake themselves out to a game-high 16-point lead (32-16) with 4:32 left in the half.
Philadelphia's lead remained in double figures until Gelvis Solano sunk back-to-back 3-pointers to trim the cushion to 53-44 with 12:26 left in the contest. The Rams got their double-digit lead back on an Alexis free throw at the 10:49 mark to make it a 58-48 game.
Merrimack, with the help of five Solano points, went on a 9-2 surge to pull within 60-57 with 8:06 left. A Huggins jumper and Johnson free throw allowed the Rams to regain a six-point advantage (63-57).
The Warriors would go on an 8-1 run to erase a 68-62 Ram lead and move in front 70-69 on a James Kennedy layup with 22 seconds left.
After Philadelphia turned the ball over on its next possession, Troy Hammel stepped to the line to hit two free throws with 20 seconds on the clock to push the Merrimack lead to 72-69.
The Rams would have two looks at a game tying 3-pointer in the final 16 seconds, but couldn't get one to fall.
Solano posted a game-high 24 points and Anthony Barry netted 20.
Philadelphia heads to Georgian Court for the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference opener on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m.