ORONO, Maine – Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) matched a career-high with 22 points and sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) matched his career high in points en route to recording his third career double-double, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team dropped a 78-75 heartbreaker in double overtime to the University of Maine on Monday night at Alfond Arena.
The Wildcats fall to 7-9 on the season, including 2-2 in America East, while the Black Bears move to 8-11 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
Gibbs, who was 8-for-16 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc – tied his career high for the sixth time since setting it Jan. 21, 2007 versus Stony Brook and also added eight rebounds, four assists and a steal in 39 minutes. DiLiegro netted 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting and ripped down 12 boards, including six on the offensive end of the floor. DiLiegro, who set his career high with 12 points against Northeastern on Dec. 3, 2007, added a block and two steals in 39 minutes.
Tied at 72 at the start of double overtime, Maine opened the period with an old fashioned three-point play from Malachi Peay. After a scoreless stretch of 2:38, Mark Socoby tacked on two to the Maine advantage with a pair of free throws. The Wildcats answered and cut their deficit to 77-75 with 40 seconds left on a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon).
UNH immediately fouled and sent Kaimondre Owes to the line, where he made just one of two to give the Wildcats life. The ‘Cats could not capitalize, however, missing four treys after they grabbed four offensive rebounds in the final 24 seconds. Tchatchoua tallied 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Maine led 55-54 with 4:48 remaining in regulation when an Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) trifecta gave UNH its first lead since 1:02 in the first half. A jumper by Gibbs and a layup by junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) opened the Wildcat lead up to 61-55 with 1:20 to go. Maine did not lie down, however, as layups by Socoby, Junior Bernal and Gerald McLemore over the final 54 seconds tied the game and sent it to overtime. Abreu recorded 11 points, three rebounds and three assists, while Onguetou added nine points and six boards.
The Black Bears opened the first overtime session with a pair of 3-pointers by McLemore, sandwiched around a Gibbs free throw, which put Maine on top 67-62 a minute in. Gibbs answered with a 3 of his own to cut it to two and a DiLiegro layup knotted the game at 67 with just under two minutes to play.
After a Bernal free throw, Gibbs knocked down another triple that put UNH up by two with 39 seconds left. Socoby cut the deficit to one with a free throw and then made three the old fashioned way to give Maine the two-point advantage with 13 ticks left. Gibbs, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, would not give up, however, grabbing his own miss and laying it up to tie the game at 72 with four seconds on the clock. McLemore, Maine’s America East Player of the Game, had a good look at a 3 to end it, but the ball rimmed out and sent the teams to a second overtime. Gibbs scored nine points on 3 of 4 shooting in the two overtimes.
UNH opened the game on a 15-6 run, with six different players scoring the first six baskets. The Wildcats led 20-12 with 10:30 remaining when Maine ripped off a 15-2 run, sparked by an Owes 3-pointer, to take a 27-22 lead with 4:22 left. Junior guard Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give UNH a one-point lead with 2:24 left. DiLiegro added a jumper off the glass to widen the lead to 30-27 with just over two minutes to play before the break. After the teams traded points, Maine closed out the half on a 5-0 run to take a 34-32 lead into the locker room. Santos scored a season-high nine points on a season best three treys.
The squads went back and forth in the second half, with Maine taking its largest lead (46-40) at 14:35. UNH would cut it as close as one, but could not get closer until a 3 and a layup by Abreu tied the game at 54 with 5:14 left and sparked the 12-1 run that put the ‘Cats up six with just over a minute to play.
UNH was outshot 48 percent (25-52) to 40 percent (30-76) from the field, but won the battle on the glass, 49-37 and had more offensive rebounds (25) than defensive (24).
Gibbs finished the night with 1,114 points to move past Erie Feragne (1,105) for 16th place on UNH’s all-time scoring list.
McLemore led Maine with 17 points. Peay had 12, Socoby and Owes added 11 and Sean McNally chipped in with 10, while also tallying 10 boards.
The Wildcats return to action Thursday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. when they play host to Binghamton University at Lundholm Gymnasium.