20-0 run in second half propels Florida past Merrimack

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Walter Clayton Jr. scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the second half as Florida took command and rolled over visiting Merrimack 77-57 on Tuesday night in Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman Alex Condon recorded his first collegiate double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds for Florida. Tyrese Samuel and Zyon Pullin added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Gators (5-3).

Freshman Thomas Haugh had 11 rebounds and Will Richard grabbed nine as the Gators dominated the boards 57-33, leading to a 25-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Samba Diallo and Jordan Derkack scored 14 points each for Merrimack (4-6). Budd Clark added 11.

Down a point at halftime, the Gators broke the game open with a 20-0 run. It turned a 37-34 deficit into a 54-37 lead approaching the midpoint of the second half. Clayton accounted for eight points in burst, including two 3-pointers.

They extended that run to 26-2 to lead 60-39 with 8:40 left in the game. The Warriors got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way.

After a cold first half, the Gators warmed enough to shoot 39.7 percent from the floor, but they finished at 6-of-17 on 3-pointers. The Warriors’ first-half woes only worsened after the break. They finished at 33.3 from the floor and 3-of-24 from long range.

The first half ended with Merrimack up 31-30 on a layup by Bryan Etumnu as both teams went through shooting woes.

Florida finished the period at 35.7 percent from the field and Merrimack 37 percent. The Gators went 0-of-10 over a span of more than six minutes, and the Warriors took advantage to break out to a 18-8 lead, but they missed their next six shots and failing to pad that cushion.

Both teams also struggled with turnovers, combining for 20 in the period. The Warriors accounted for 11. The Gators also hit only 8 of 13 free-throw attempts in the half.

The Warriors tightened things up with their ball-handling in the second half to finish with 14 turnovers. The Gators finished only 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) from the free-throw line.