BALTIMORE, Md. – Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 20 points and sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) recorded his third double-double of the season, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team dropped an 81-76 heartbreaker to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Tuesday evening at RAC Arena.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 9-14 on the season, including 4-7 in America East play, while the Retrievers improve to 11-13 overall and 5-7 in the conference.
Abreu, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, was 7-for-15 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Abreu added three rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. DiLiegro poured in a career-high 16 points on 7 of 13 shooting and ripped down 10 boards in 36 minutes. Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) also tallied 16 points, four rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 40 minutes for the Wildcats.
Leading 51-45 just over five minutes into the second half, the Wildcats were forced to withstand a 20-2 UMBC run that gave the Retrievers a 65-53 lead midway through the half. After a layup by Gibbs stopped the bleeding, a Jay Greene 3-pointer with 9:19 remaining gave UMBC its largest lead of the game at 68-55.
Gibbs answered with a 3-pointer of his own and after Greene sank a jumper, Gibbs knocked down another 3 to slice the deficit to 70-61 at 8:21. After Greene responded with a layup 30 seconds later, the Wildcats ripped off a 13-3 run – featuring a pair of treys from Abreu, who netted 17 in the second half, and one from Gibbs – that cut the UMBC lead to 75-74 with 3:33 to play.
The Retrievers would not let UNH get any closer, however, receiving a layup from Darryl Proctor, off a miss by Greene, to widen their lead to 77-74 with 3:01 left. Junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) hauled in a rebound off a missed 3 by Abreu and put it back to keep the Wildcats within a point with 1:40 on the clock. Greene then hit two at the line to put UMBC back up by three at 79-76 with 1:20 left, and after UNH missed a 3 to tie and was forced to foul, Matt Spadafora sank a pair at the stripe with 14 ticks left to seal the win. Onguetou finished with six points and seven rebounds.
The game opened as a seesaw battle, with UMBC leading 11-8. DiLiegro scored the first eight points of the game for UNH, which tied the game on an Abreu 3-pointer at 12:45. The teams were later tied at 18 when Gibbs drilled a 3 that sparked an 8-2 run, which put the Wildcats on top 26-20 with 7:26 left in the half.
An old fashioned three-point play by Greene cut UMBC’s deficit to three before the teams traded baskets twice to bring the score to 30-27 with 3:38 left. A DiLiegro dunk off a feed from Abreu put the Wildcats back up five, but four free throws from Brett Burrier closed the first-half scoring with the Retrievers down just one, 32-31. The Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season when leading at the half (6-1).
Senior guard Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) scored 10 points in 16 minutes of action, while sophomore guard Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) tallied six points, four rebounds and four assists.
Gibbs finished the game with 1,205 career points and moved past Keith Dickson (1,202) for ninth place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. The captain’s two blocks give him 53 for his career and move him past Joe Rainis (51) for fourth all-time in program history.
UNH shot 44 percent (30-68) from the floor, including 39 percent (11-28) from deep. UMBC was 52 percent (29-56) from the field and 55 percent (6-11) from 3. The Wildcats turned the ball over less (5) than the Retrievers (7), who are fourth in the nation in turnovers per game (10.3). The Wildcats went the entire first half without a turnover and did not commit their first until the 11:54 mark of the second half.
Greene, UMBC’s America East Player, poured in a career-high 36 points on 12 of 18 shooting, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Greene was also 7-for-7 from the stripe to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Proctor also posted a double-double for the Retrievers, recording 23 points and 10 boards.
The Wildcats return to action Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. when they take on the University at Albany at SEFCU Arena.