STONY BROOK, N.Y. – After missing nearly two months, senior guard Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) returned to score a season-high 22 points and lift the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team past Stony Brook University, 71-60, Wednesday night at Pritchard Gymnasium.
The win snaps the Wildcats’ three-game losing skid and improves their record to 8-11 on the season, including 3-4 in America East play. The Seawolves fall to 11-10 overall and 3-5 in the conference. The win is UNH’s third straight against SBU and its seventh in the last eight meetings.
In a season-high 31 minutes, Gilchrese – who had missed 12 straight games and had not played since Dec. 6 – was 6 of 10 from the floor, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc. Gilchrese, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, was also 5-for-6 from the line to go along with two rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) and sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) also scored in double digits with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Gibbs added five rebounds, an assist and a block, while Abreu tallied a rebound, three assists, a block and a steal.
Trailing 34-25 at the half, UNH responded with a 27-8 run that lasted until midway through the second frame. The Wildcats started the half with a 10-2 run – highlighted by eight points from Gilchrese – to cut their deficit to one (36-35) in the first three minutes. After a pair of Tommy Brenton free throws stopped the bleeding for Stony Brook, Gibbs re-opened the flood gates with a 3-pointer at 16:09 that tied the game and sparked a 17-4 UNH run.
A pair of Muhammad El-Amin free throws put the Seawolves back in front, 40-38, until back-to-back baskets by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) recaptured the lead for UNH with 14:00 remaining. El-Amin responded with a jumper to put Stony Brook back in front, but a Gilchrese trey with 13:19 left gave UNH a 45-42 lead – a lead it would hold for good – and sparked a 10-0 Wildcat run. Abreu nailed back-to-back 3s before junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) added a free throw that opened a 52-42 UNH lead with 10:28 to play. The Wildcats scored more points in the first 8:29 of the second half (26) than they did in the entire first half (25).
After Stony Brook had cut the lead to eight, Gilchrese drained his fifth and final trifecta of the night to give UNH its largest lead of the game at 57-46 with just under eight minutes to go. The Seawolves had one last push in them, however, hitting eight free throws over the next three minutes for an 8-0 run that cut their deficit to 57-54.
Two Gibbs free throws would snap the stretch before an El-Amin jumper – the lone Stony Brook field goal over the final 10:01 – kept it a three-point game. After Abreu sank a pair from the line, the Wildcats made a stop on the defensive end and looked to their captain to step up. With the shot clock running down, Gibbs did just that, hitting a fall-away jumper in the lane to put his team up 63-56 with 2:29 on the clock.
A couple of free throws brought Stony Brook within five, but Gibbs came up big again, knocking down another one of his four 3-pointers from the top of the key with 1:08 left to open the Wildcat lead to 66-58. After a missed 3-pointer by the Seawolves, Gibbs corralled the rebound and used a beautiful outlet pass to hit Abreu in stride for a layup with would give UNH a 68-58 lead 44 ticks left and seal the win. The two teams traded free throws before Abreu added one at the line with 27 seconds on the clock to cap the scoring. DiLiegro recorded four points, eight boards, two assists and a steal in the game, while Onguetou chipped in with three points, seven rebounds, an assist and a block.
After SBU scored the first four points of the game, a jumper by Abreu and a 3-pointer by junior guard Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) gave UNH a 5-4 lead with 17:44 remaining in the first half. The Seawolves went ahead on four straight free throws by El-Amin before a bucket by Abreu cut the lead to one. A Demetrius Young layup put the lead back to three when a Gilchrese trey tied the game at 10 with 12:44 left in the half.
Back-to-back Stony Brook 3s opened a six-point lead until Gibbs answered with one of his own to make it 16-13 with 11:08 remaining. Down 20-15, Gibbs nailed another 3 to slice UNH’s deficit to two. The Seawolves would answer, however, crafting a 7-2 run to take a 27-20 lead with 5:30 left. The Wildcats would cut it to four on a Gibbs jumper with 3:16 to play, but another 7-2 Stony Brook run closed the half with the Seawolves on top 34-25.
UNH shot its second highest percentages of the year from both the floor and behind the arc. The Wildcats were 51 percent (24-47) from the field and 48 percent (12-25) from deep, while holding Stony Brook to just 38 percent (17-45) and 27 percent (3-11) in those respective categories. The ‘Cats also continued to dominate the glass, holding a 32-26 rebounding advantage.
The block for Gibbs moved him into a fifth-place tie with Blagoj Janev (49) on UNH’s all-time blocks list.
El-Amin, Stony Book’s Player of the Game, led the Seawolves with a game-high 24.
The Wildcats return to action when they play host to the University of Vermont on Saturday, Jan. 31 at noon.