DURHAM, N.H. – Sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) tied his career high with 17 points and sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) registered his first double-double of the season, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team fell to Hofstra University, 62-57, Saturday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium.
With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 3-7 on the season, while the Pride improve to 8-3.
Tchatchoua, the America East Player of the Game, was a perfect 6 of 6 from the field and added four rebounds, while DiLiegro recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds for the second double-double of his career.
Trailing 51-49 with 5:50 to go in the game, the Wildcats tied it up on DiLiegro’s put-back dunk off a missed layup. Hofstra moved back in front by two on Charles Jenkins’ jumper, but DiLiegro answered with another monster dunk to tie the game at 53 with 4:38 left. DiLiegro moved the Wildcats in front by two with a pair of free throws at the four-minute mark before a pair of Hofstra free throws knotted the game at 55.
Two more free throws from sophomore guard Tyrone Conley (Burington, Vt.) gave UNH its two-point cushion back before the Pride cut it in half with a free throw. A Hofstra jumper with 2:31 remaining put the Pride in front, 58-57. That would be the last bucket of the game for either side, as Hofstra closed the scoring with four free throws.
After a slow start that saw Hofstra begin the game on a 17-1 run, including 14 unanswered points, the Wildcats used a 15-1 run – sparked by an Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) 3-pointer from the left wing at 11:37 – to climb back into the game. The remainder of the half was a back-and-forth affair that ended with Hofstra leading 30-24. Freshman forward Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) would provide the late spark for the Wildcats as he scored all five of his first-half points in the final two minutes of play, including his first career 3-pointer. Benson finished with a career-high seven points.
The Wildcats came out in the second half torching the nets as they went on a 16-4 run out of the gate in the first seven minutes of play. A 3-pointer by junior guard Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.), with 12:48 left, capped the run and gave UNH its largest lead of the game at 40-34. The Wildcats led 47-43 with just under nine minutes left when Hofstra used an 8-2 run to grab a 51-49 lead with 6:08 left in the game.
Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) tallied eight points, six rebounds and two assists, while reaching a handful of milestones. Gibbs also recorded a career-high four steals and tied a career high with three blocks. Gibbs posted his 200th career assist and also moved into ninth place on UNH’s all-time blocks list with 45 to become just the fourth Wildcat in history to amass 1,000 points, 200 assists and 45 blocks. Gibbs now has 1,020 points and moved past Marcus Bullock (1,015) and Eric Thielen (1,019) for 22nd on UNH’s all-time scoring list. The co-captain also moved into a third-place tie with Blagoj Janev on UNH’s all-time 3-point field goals made list (172) with his lone trey of the game.
The Wildcats were outshot 35 percent (18-52) to 34 percent (20-59), but outscored Hofstra in the paint, 24-14.
The Pride were led by Greg Washington, who tallied 13 points and seven rebounds. Charles Jenkins also contributed by adding 12 points.
The Wildcats return to action by ringing in the New Year when they play host to Santa Clara University on Sunday, Jan. 4. Tip off at Lundholm is 1 p.m.