WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Junior Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 19 points, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team dropped a 56-53 decision to the University of Hartford on Saturday afternoon at Chase Arena.
Playing their first of three straight games on the road, the Wildcats fell to 6-9 on the season, including 1-3 in America East play. The Hawks, who snap a two-game skid versus UNH, improve to 4-13.
Abreu, UNH's America East Player of the Game, was 7-for-14 from the field, including 4-for-6 from behind the arc.
Joe Zeglinski, Hartford's America East Player of the Game, erupted for 26 points - 21 in the second half alone - on 9 of 20 shooting, including 4 of 10 from deep.
With UNH leading 33-26 with 11:08 remaining in the contest, Zeglinski woke his team up as he nailed consecutive 3-pointers to pull Hartford within one. Then with the game tied at 34 with 9:25 to play, Abreu knocked down a 3, but Zeglinski kept the Hawks in it with a layup that sliced the deficit back to one.
Still trailing by one, 39-38, with 8:12 to go, Zeglinski knocked down a pair at the line to give his team its first lead of the game. Hartford went up 42-39 on a layup by Kevin Estes, but a jumper by Abreu kept the Wildcats within striking distance at 5:42. After Estes pushed the lead back to three with a pair of free throws, Abreu drained a big 3-pointer to tie the game at 44 with 4:41 remaining.
It was Zeglinski again, however, who would respond and knock down another huge shot, this time a 3-pointer at 4:24, which gave Hartford the lead for good at 47-44. Zeglinski then buried a jumper to widen the advantage to five, and after a free throw from junior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.), another Zeglinski jumper pushed it to six at 51-45 with 1:40 on the clock. Still down six - 56-50 - with five seconds left, junior James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) closed the scoring with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Valladares matched his career high with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc, while DiLiegro posted seven points and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats scored the first four points of the game and then jumped out to a 7-2 lead on a 3-pointer from Abreu at 16:25. A Zeglinski 3 later cut it to 10-9, but the ‘Cats scored six straight - capped by a Valladares baseline jumper at 8:46 - to push their lead to seven.
A three-point play from Estes cut it to four, but an offensive rebound and layup from senior Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon), and a 3 from Valladares, gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the night at 21-12 with 3:24 left in the opening half. Morgan Sabia and senior Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) then traded 3-pointers before consecutive baskets by Zeglinski and Estes closed the scoring and cut UNH's lead to 24-19. The Wildcats fell to 6-1 when leading at the half.
Onguetou grabbed eight rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
Abreu started the second-half scoring with a jumper that widened the Wildcat advantage to seven, but a 3-pointer from Milton Burton quickly sliced it to four. A Zeglinski layup would later cut it to three, but a put-back from freshman Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) and another 3 from Abreu pushed it to eight at 32-24 with 15:48 remaining.
From there, however, Hartford would reel off an 8-1 run, capped by Zeglinski's two 3-pointers, to jump right back into the game.
Junior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) finished with nine points and four rebounds.
Estes chipped in with 11 points and six boards for Hartford.
The Hawks outshot UNH, 36.4 percent (20-55) to 29.6 percent (16-54), and outscored the Wildcats in the paint, 16-8. The ‘Cats held a 40-39 edge on the boards, while both teams turned the ball over 12 times.
The Wildcats return to action Monday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. when they take on the University of Maine at Alfond Arena.