BOSTON, MA - Austin Ganly's layup with nine seconds left lifted New Hampshire to an 82-81 win over Northeastern in an America East game at Solomon Court on Tuesday night. The Huskies then had three chances to win the game in the final seconds, but Jamaar Walker's driving layup bounced out, Lunzaya Nlandu's follow-up from point-blank range missed and Meshak Burke-Bennett's tip-in at the buzzer hit off the rim.
The loss continues a season-long run of tight losses for the Huskies, who fell to 5-18 and 3-9 in America East. NU has lost four games by one point this year, including two straight, and is 1-8 in games decided by three points or fewer. UNH improved to 9-13 overall and 6-5 in conference play. Ganly and teammate Chris Brown both finished with 23 points, while Marcus Bullock added 15 points. Brown (7-10 FG) also had 12 rebounds. Walker (8-12 FG) led NU with a career-high 19 points. Ricky Cranford had 17, Jean Bain 15 and Jesse Dunn 10.
The Huskies took an 81-78 lead on a pair of Cranford free throws with 31 seconds left before Brown pulled UNH back within one, 81-80, with two fouls shots at the 18-second mark. NU struggled to get the ball inbounds, using a timeout before Cranford got it in to Dunn, who turned the ball over in the corner to set up Ganly's go-ahead basket.
The game was tied at the half, 36-36, but the Wildcats came out and got five quick points from Ganly to take a 41-36 edge with 19:28 left. UNH increased its advantage to its largest of the night, 52-42, after a three-pointer by Jeff Senulis with 14:34 to go. NU came surging back as Bain nailed consecutive three-pointers, the second one as part of a four-point play, to get the Huskies back within three, 52-49, at the 13:48 mark. Walker completed the 13-2 run with two straight layups, driving to give NU a 55-54 lead with 12:13 showing. It was back and forth the rest of the way with nine lead changes and four ties. The largest lead by either team in the final 10 minutes was a 65-60 NU edge with 7:51 left.
UNH used a 20-7 run late in the first half to erase a 13-point deficit. Brown scored six straight points to start the surge and Bullock capped it with a pair of three-pointers to tie the game at 29 with 2:37 left before intermission. The teams traded the lead twice in the final minutes before the break, but Bullock netted a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to create the 36-36 halftime score. Cranford had a game-high 13 points at the half, while Bullock paced UNH with 12.
Cranford made his first four field goal tries, including three three-pointers, and scored 11 points in the first 6:45 as NU built a 16-7 edge. Walker was just as hot, nailing his first three three-point attempts, the last of which gave the Huskies their largest lead of the game, 22-9, with 10:53 left in the first half.