DURHAM, N.H. - Junior Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) led four Wildcats in double figures with 17 points to power the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team to a 67-60 win against Binghamton University on Thursday night in front of 1,759 fans at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats' second consecutive win improved them to 10-13 on the season, including 5-7 in
America East play. The ‘Cats are also 8-2 at home, which matches their best home start through 10 games since the 1994-95 season. UNH has now posted four double-digit win seasons in a five-year span for the first time since 1969-70 to 1973-74 and has put together a streak of seven straight nine-plus win seasons for the first time since 1918-1919 to 1926-27. The Wildcats also snapped a seven-game losing skid against Binghamton and beat the Bearcats at home for the first time in eight tries dating back to a Feb. 2, 2002 win at Lundholm. Binghamton fell to 11-15 overall and 6-5 in the conference.
Abreu, UNH's America East Player of the Game, was 6-for-13 from the floor, made all four of his free throws, matched a career high with eight rebounds and handed out four assists. Freshman Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) provided a huge spark off the bench with 14 points, two steals, a rebound, an assist and a block in 14 minutes. Junior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) tallied 13 points, five boards and equaled a career best with three blocks. Freshman Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) chipped in with 10 points, two assists, two steals and no turnovers in 22 minutes off the bench.
Greer Wright, Binghamton's America East Player of the Game, and Moussa Camara led four Binghamton scorers in double digits with 13 points apiece.
Trailing 42-32 with 12:42 left in the game, the Wildcats ripped off a 13-2 run - with eight points from Myrick - to re-gain their first lead in 12:10. Myrick broke what had been a 14-4 Binghamton run with a free throw before his layup off a feed from Rhoads cut the deficit to seven. A Myrick steal then set up a layup by sophomore Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) before Camara's bucket pushed it back to seven. Myrick sliced it to four with a 3-pointer from the left wing and found Conley in the same spot just 1:23 later to pull his team within one. Myrick then capped the run and gave UNH the 45-44 lead with 9:08 to play on another bucket inside off a Rhoads pass.
Binghamton responded with a 5-0 run, but a 6-1 stretch - fueled by a jumper from Abreu and four free throws from Myrick - put the Wildcats back on top, 51-50 with 6:23 to go. Wright came back with a 3 that gave the Bearcats a two-point lead, but UNH stayed strong and used a 5-0 run to grab a three-point lead. A tough three-point play from Rhoads, followed by another Myrick layup, made it 56-53 with 5:14 remaining.
After Camara cut it to one on a pair of free throws, 1 of 2 at the line from Conley and a jumper from Abreu pushed the lead to four. Binghamton bounced back with a 3-pointer from Jimmy Gray and a basket from Mahamoud Jabbi to take a 60-59 lead with 3:27 on the clock.
UNH again responded, however, taking the lead for good on a pair of free throws from Abreu at 3:06. Abreu then found classmate Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) inside for a layup that opened the lead to 63-60 with two minutes remaining before Conley and Abreu each sank a pair at the line to close the scoring and the Wildcats' 8-0 run.
The defense played a huge role in the run, forcing Binghamton to go 0-for-6 from the field with a turnover in the final 3:27. Conley had a monstrous block on Chretien Lukusa when he ricocheted his potential game-tying layup off the glass, which led to DiLiegro's layup. Myrick also had a block on Dylan Talley, which sealed the win with the Wildcats up five.
Myrick was 4-for-6 from the field, including 1-for-2 from deep, and 5-for-6 at the line. Graham tallied six points, two assists, two steals and no turnovers in 19 minutes, while DiLiegro added three points and seven boards.
After Lukusa answered Abreu's layup to give Binghamton the early 3-2 lead, the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run - capped by a 3-pointer from Abreu, who had seven of the points - to grab a 14-3 lead at 14:34. A Camara free throw stopped the run, but Graham's jumper in the paint gave UNH its largest lead of the game at 16-4 with 13:11 remaining in the opening half.
Back-to-back baskets from Kyrie Sutton sliced Binghamton's deficit to eight, but layups from Rhoads and senior Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) pushed the lead back to 12 at 20-8 with 9:08 to play. From there, however, a 15-1 Binghamton run - with five points apiece from Wright and Talley - gave the Bearcats a 23-21 lead at 3:14. Binghamton still led by two, 28-26, when Graham's layup with four seconds left tied the game and closed the first-half scoring. UNH improved to 10-2 when tied or leading at the half.
Wright kicked off the second-half scoring before Camara followed with a 3-pointer and a jumper to close a 7-0 run that put the Bearcats up 35-28 at 17:45. A trey from Rhoads and a free throw a minute later sliced the Bearcats' lead to three, but another 7-0 run - with consecutive baskets from Talley and a 3-pointer from Gray - gave Binghamton its largest lead of the contest at 42-32 with 12:42 remaining, and set the stage for UNH's comeback.
Abreu finished the night with 1,042 points and passed Paul Dufour (1,026), Derek Counts (1,026) and Eric Montanari (1,038) for 19th on UNH's all-time scoring list.
Despite being outshot 41.5 percent (22-53) to 37.5 percent (21-56), including 40 percent (8-20) to 29.4 percent (5-17) from behind the arc, and being outrebounded, 40-33, the Wildcats only turned the ball over seven times while forcing 16 Binghamton turnovers and held a 32-22 advantage in the paint. UNH also made 20 of their 28 free throws (71.4 percent) while the Bearcats shot just 40 percent (8-20) from the stripe.
Talley added 12 points for Binghamton, while Sutton chipped in with 10.
The Wildcats return to action Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. when they travel north to take on the University of Vermont at Patrick Gymnasium. The next home game for the ‘Cats is Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. when they play host to the University of Maine at Lundholm. The game will air live on Comcast SportsNet.