BRONX, N.Y. – Sophomore guard Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) led three players in double figures, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team fell short against Fordham University, 60-56, Tuesday night at the Rose Hill Gym.
The Wildcats head into Christmas at 3-6, while the Rams improve to 2-7.
Conley, the America East Player of the Game, tallied 12 points and six rebounds, while fellow sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) added 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) chipped in with 10 points and five boards.
Trailing 49-44 with 8:56 remaining, the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run that was sparked by a Conley 3-pointer that cut the deficit to two. Gibbs then hit a pair of free throws before sinking one of two at the line to give UNH a 50-49 advantage with 5:10 to go. Conley followed with a layup and completed the three-point play at the line after he was fouled to put the Wildcats on top 53-49 with 4:41 to play.
Mike Moore’s basket – the first Fordham points in a span of 5:19 – cut the Wildcat lead to two and started a 6-0 run that would give the Rams a 55-53 lead with 2:22 left in the contest. Junior forward Abby Kabba (Oklahoma City, Okla.) would hit one of two at the line before Gibbs sunk another pair at the stripe to put UNH back on top 56-55 with 1:01 remaining. Jio Fontan’s layup with 43 seconds left regained Fordham’s edge before the Rams sunk three of four from the line to close the scoring and pick up the win.
UNH trailed 22-8 with 7:06 left in the first half when two Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) layups, sandwiched around a Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) 3-pointer, set off a 15-4 run that brought the Wildcats to within 26-23 with 1:42 left. The two teams swapped baskets and headed into the break with Fordham leading 28-25.
Graham gave the Wildcats eight points off the bench, while Santos recorded six points, five rebounds and two assists in a season-high 33 minutes.
The squads opened the second half with a seesaw battle that gave Fordham a 42-36 lead with 14:33 remaining. A pair of Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) free throws, followed by another Santos trey, cut the Ram lead to 42-41 with 13:40 left. A couple of free throws expanded Fordham’s lead to three before Gibbs knocked down a trifecta to tie the game at 44 with 10:36 to go. Fordham recaptured its lead, however, when after a Fontan jumper and a Moore 3 put the Rams on top 49-44.
Tchatchoua finished the game with seven points and three rebounds.
The Wildcats outrebounded the Rams, 38-35, but were outshot 43 percent (22-51) to 35 percent (19-54).
Abreu has scored in double digits in six straight games, the second longest streak of his career. Gibbs, who has scored at least 10 points in five straight games, eight of nine this year and 12 of 13 dating back to last season, now has 1,012 career points and passed Tom Horne (1,011) to move into 24th place on UNH’s all-time scoring list.
Moore poured in 19 for the Rams, while Fontan netted 18 and Chris Bethel added 10.
The ‘Cats get back at it Saturday, Dec. 27 when they return home to Lundholm Gymnasium for the first time since Dec. 6 to play host to Hofstra University at 4 p.m.