BURLINGTON, Vt. - The University of New Hampshire Wildcats fought the Vermont Catamounts to the very end, but the home team made plays at the most crucial times to pull out a 58-53 America East victory Saturday afternoon in men's basketball action at Patrick Gymnasium.
The Wildcats led throughout the majority of the first half, going up by as much as seven points. After Jermaine Anderson (Beverly, Mass.) hit a three-pointer with 5:21 remaining in the half to put UNH up 23-16, Vermont ended the half by scoring nine unanswered points to go into halftime up 25-23.
UNH stayed with Vermont during the second half, regaining the lead halfway through the half on a three-pointer by Blagoj Janev (Sydney, Australia). After Mike Christensen (Reston, Va.) hit two free throws to give the Wildcats a 43-40 lead, the Catamounts scored eight consecutive points over the next four minutes to take the lead for good.
With the Wildcats still within striking distance in the final minute, Vermont's Kyle Cieplicki and Mike Trimboli made six consecutive free throws to keep UNH from having a chance to tie the game. With the score 56-53 and seven seconds remaining, Cieplicki missed two free throws, but Trimboli corralled the rebound off the second missed free throw, was fouled, and hit two free throws to ice the game for the Catamounts.
Janev hit three three-pointers in the game and led the Wildcats with 13 points, 11 of them in the second half. Freshman Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) went 6-for-12 from the field to score 12 points, plus he pulled down six rebounds, while Jamaal Caterina (Portland, Maine) contributed ten points and six rebounds in the game.
Christensen led the Wildcats with seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals, but struggled to score points, notching only four made free throws as he missed all nine field goal attempts. For the game, UNH shot 35.3 percent from the field, including 29.2 percent from the three-point line, and 76.9 percent from the free throw line.
For Vermont (3-4, 1-0 America East), Trimboli went 9-for-10 from the charity stripe and led all players with 18 points and eight assists, while Chris Holm notched a double-double with ten points and 11 rebounds and Martin Klimes added ten points before fouling out. The Catamounts shot 39.1 percent from the field and 73.1 percent from the free throw line.
New Hampshire (2-7, 0-2 America East), after taking final exams over the upcoming week, resumes its five-game road trip next Sunday, December 18, against the University of Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center beginning at 2 p.m. The Wildcats return to conference play and Lundholm Gym Thursday, January 5, 2006, against the Binghamton Bearcats beginning at 7 p.m.