DURHAM, N.H. - Junior Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 24 points as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team held on to defeat Colgate University, 63-55, Wednesday evening at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats, who improve to 5-0 at Lundholm to match their best home start since the 1968-69 season and also extend their home winning streak to eight games, even their record at 5-5. This marks the first time the ‘Cats have reached New Year's Day at .500 or better since they started the 1997-98 season at 5-5. UNH drops the Raiders to 1-10 on the season by beating them for the third time in four contests and the first time at home since Jan. 5, 2002.
With the win, head coach Bill Herrion earns his 50th career victory at UNH and becomes just the second coach in program history to record 50 wins in less than five full seasons. Gerry Friel, UNH’s all-time winningest coach, won 61 games in his first five years in Durham.
Abreu was named the America East Player of the Game on his birthday after he was 7-for-13 from the field and made a career-best 10 of his 12 free throws to go along with a career-high tying eight rebounds and a pair of assists. Classmate Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) added 13 points and four rebounds as both he and Abreu extended their double-digit scoring streaks to five games apiece.
Ben Johnson and Kyle Roemer led Colgate with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
UNH opened the game on a 6-0 streak that was capped by a Conley 3-pointer at 15:49. The Raiders were held without a field goal until 14:06 when a Nick Pascale layup sparked a 9-0 run that gave Colgate a three-point lead at 11:42. Abreu completed a three-point play 1:15 later to cap a 5-0 Wildcat run that put them back on top, 11-9.
Roemer answered back with a 3 at 9:54, but that was the last lead Colgate would have as an alley-oop dunk from sophomore Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) to Conley at 7:07 gave UNH a 14-12 lead that it would hold for the remainder of the game. The play was part of an 8-0 run, capped by a Graham jumper at 4:42, which put the Wildcats up 19-12. The Raiders scored the next six to slice their deficit to one, but a trey from senior Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) jump-started another 8-0 run that would close the first-half scoring and give UNH a 27-18 lead heading into the break. UNH is now a perfect 5-0 when leading at the half.
After Colgate started the second half with a pair of free throws, respective layups by junior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) and sophomore Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) bookended a 12-2 UNH run that opened up a 39-22 Wildcat lead at 16:47. The Raiders cut it to 41-27 before a Santos three-point play and DiLiegro layup gave UNH its largest lead of the night at 46-27 with 12:23 remaining.
From there, however, a Roemer jumper ignited an 11-0 run that spanned 6:51 and cut Colgate's deficit to eight with 6:47 on the clock. Abreu scored UNH's next six points as the Wildcats went up 52-41 with 3:26 left. After Roemer drilled a deep 3 with 1:10 on the clock to cut it to eight, Colgate began fouling and received 3-pointers from Johnson and Mitch Rolls to climb within 59-55 with 32 seconds remaining. The Wildcats made four of their final six free throws and forced the Raiders to miss all four of their shots the rest of the way to seal the 63-55 win.
DiLiegro recorded eight points and 10 boards, Santos chipped in with seven points and Graham posted five points and six rebounds. Senior Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) pulled in eight boards and was the third Wildcat with at least eight rebounds as the ‘Cats held a 46-31 advantage on the glass to improve to 5-1 when outrebounding their opponent.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday, Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. EST as they fly west to take on Santa Clara University at the Leavey Center. The ‘Cats defeated the Broncos, 58-54, last season at Lundholm on Jan. 4, 2009.