DURHAM, N.H. - Buoyed by career-high performances by junior Griffin Walker (Coffeyville, Kan.) and freshman Shejdie Childs (Wynnewood, Pa.), the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team picked up their first conference win on Wednesday night, beating archrival University of Maine at Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, 74-64. With the win, the 'Cats improved to 2-10 (1-2 America East) while the Black Bears left town with a 6-9 mark (1-2 America East).
Following a first half that saw the Wildcats open up a 36-26 lead, Maine closed to within five points (41-36) with 15:27 remaining on a jump shot by Joe Campell. But the 'Cats responded, coming up with steals from Walker, Childs and junior guard Marcus Bullock (Cherry Hill, N.J.) on the next three Maine possessions to open up a ten point lead, 46-36. That sequence would prove to be the story for the game, as UNH turned 22 Maine turnovers into 25 points, while turning it over itself just eight times, giving up just six Maine points as a result. Walker and Childs led the way for the 'Cats, scoring 18 and 17 points, respectively. For Maine, senior forward Rickey White converted 11 of his 15 shot attempts into a game-high 24 points to lead the Black Bears. Ronnie Dennis (Abbeville, Ala.) (17 points) and Bullock (15) also hit double figures for UNH, while Bullock also pulled in a career high eight boards.
The Wildcats scored the game's first hoop at 18:28 on a layup by Childs to lead 2-0, and they would hold on to that lead for the remainder of the game. Maine knotted the score at 7-7 with 15:36 to go in the half, but the 'Cats would go on a 20-10 run over the next 7:47 to open up a 27-17 lead, and they would carry that 10 point lead into halftime.
UNH saw their biggest lead inflate to 13 points in the second half after Childs went the length of the court and hit a layup to give the 'Cats a 41-28 advantage with 18:36 to play. Despite White's shooting nine of 13 from the floor in the second half, Maine would get no closer than five points the rest of the way as the 'Cats forced turned 11 Maine turnovers into 16 second half points.
The 64 points allowed was UNH's second best defensive effort of the season, while the home win against Maine was their first since January 31, 1998, ending a four game home losing streak against the Black Bears.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday, Jan. 11 at the University at Albany (1 p.m.). Next home game is Monday, Jan. 13 against Brown University (7 p.m.).