Merlo nets 16 in ECAC quarters

Andrew Merlo  2013 David Sinclair/McDaniel College
Andrew Merlo 2013 David Sinclair/McDaniel College

READING, Pa. – Albirght closed the first half on a 22-10 run to take a 33-20 advantage into the locker room before holding on for a 67-55 victory over McDaniel in the quarterfinals of the 2013 ECAC South men's basketball tournament on Wednesday.

Andrew Merlo (Rehoboth, Del./Cape Henlopen) led three players in double figures for the Green Terror (14-12) with 16 points. Nic Martin (Hagerstown, Md./St. Maria Gorretti) added 12 while Evan Pupelis (Manhasset, N.Y./Manhasset) chipped in 11.

Pedro Perez led the Lions (21-6) with 18 points while Dave Singleton added 12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Kyle Jordan hit a pair of free throws on Albright's opening possession before Pupelis responded at the other end with a layup.

A Merlo 3-pointer with 18:35 to play gave McDaniel a 5-2 lead.

Perez and Phillip Perry (Crownsville, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) traded layup before Singleton hit a jumper with 17:42 on the clock to cut the deficit to one.

A single Pupelis free throw pushed the McDaniel lead to 8-6 but Perez knotted the game with 16:12 showing and then hit a 3-pointer to gave his team the lead for good two minutes later.

A Jimmy Cranwell (Brick, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) closed the margin to 11-10 but two Singleton free throws sparked the run to the break.

Clinging to a 20-17 lead after two Martin free throws with 5:36 to play, Zach Benjamin hit a jumper at the other end and Perez netted five straight points to push the lead to double digits for the first time.

Five straight points from Merlo out of the break sliced the deficit to eight in the first 54 seconds but the Lions responded with eight of the game's next nine points to take a 41-26 lead with 15:59 remaining.

Still trailing by 15 a minute later, Martin hit a layup to close the margin to 43-30 and spark a 17-8 burst that trimmed the deficit to 51-45 with 6:13 on the clock.

Four straight Albright points, including a three-point play from Evan Ward extended the lead back to 10.

A single Martin free throw with 3:59 to play made it a nine-point game but Perez countered with three free throws and the McDaniel would get no closer the rest of the way.