DURHAM, N.H. – Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) matched his career high with 22 points to lead the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team to a 65-47 victory over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County – the defending America East champions – on Wednesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats win for their third time in four games to improve to 6-8 on the season, including 2-1 in the America East. The Retrievers lose for the third time in four games to fall to 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the conference. UNH improves to 7-5 all-time against UMBC and wins for the first time in the last three meetings between the two squads.
The ‘Cats, who last season knocked off defending champion Albany, 75-66, have now recorded a victory over the reigning conference champions in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns when they notched wins over Delaware.
The 22 points – a season high – marks the fifth time Gibbs has matched his career high since setting it Jan. 21, 2007 versus Stony Brook. Gibbs, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, also added six rebounds and two assists.
Leading 27-24 at the break, UNH started the second half on an 11-2 run – capped by a Gibbs 3-pointer – that opened up a 38-26 lead with 17:32 remaining. The Wildcats tacked on one point to their lead over the next 5:15 and led 47-34 when sophomore guard Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) hit a 3-pointer to spark a 5-0 run that pushed UNH’s lead to 18. Conley finished with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting and added five rebounds.
UMBC came back with a 5-0 run of its own before Conley closed out a 6-0 UNH run with a jumper that gave the Wildcats a 58-39 advantage with 4:07 to play. After Darryl Proctor converted an old fashioned three-point play, Gibbs and Proctor traded baskets to bring the score to 60-44 with 2:31 left. Another Conley jumper and a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) gave UNH a 20-point lead – its largest of the game. Proctor finished another layup before each team added a free throw to close the scoring. Abreu tallied seven points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in the contest.
Once again it was the defense that came up big down the stretch for the Wildcats. After a Proctor layup with 9:11 left in the second half, the ‘Cats held UMBC scoreless during a 6-0 run that spanned the next 5:54.
Freshman forward Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) provided a surge of energy off the bench during UNH’s 11-2 run to start the second half. Benson threw down a monstrous two-handed slam off a feed from sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) at 18:22, and just moments later came up with a huge rejection of Proctor that kept the team feeding off the noisy Lundholm crowd’s liveliness. Tchatchoua chipped in with four points, four boards and a pair of blocks.
The start of the first half was a back-and-forth affair between both squads, with UNH taking a 10-9 lead at 15:19 off Gibbs’ second trey of the game. Gibbs scored eight of the Wildcats’ first 10 points.
The teams traded baskets for much of the next five minutes until four straight points gave UMBC its largest lead of the game (19-14) midway through the half. The Wildcats responded, however, receiving seven straight points from Conley, including a 3-pointer that put the ‘Cats in the lead for good at 6:02, to spark an 11-0 run that gave UNH a 25-19 lead with 4:20 to play.
Jay Greene knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to end the run and cut UNH’s lead down to 25-22 with 4:00 remaining. The two teams traded jumpers during the next four minutes and headed into the locker room with UNH on top, 27-24. The Wildcats are now 4-0 when leading at halftime.
Gibbs finished the game with 1,077 career points, leaving him just 11 points shy of passing Mike Christensen for 17th on UNH’s all-time scoring list. After playing 38 minutes, Gibbs also moved up the Wildcats’ all-time minutes played list and is now seventh with 3,132 minutes.
UNH shot its third highest percentage of the season from the floor to outshoot UMBC, 47 percent (25-53) to 41 percent (19-46). The Wildcats also won the battle on the boards, 39-23. Sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.), the conference’s fourth leading rebounder, recorded four points and six rebounds in the game.
Proctor led the Retrievers with 16 points and nine boards. Greene, UMBC’s America East Player of the Game, added 11 points and seven assists.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. when they head north to take on intrastate rival Dartmouth College.