DURHAM, N.H. - Junior Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 17 points, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team dropped a 72-53 decision to the University of Maine on Wednesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats fall to 10-15 on the season, including 5-9 in America East and 8-3 at home. The Black Bears improve to 17-9 overall and 9-4 in the conference.
Abreu was named UNH's America East Player of the Game for the fifth straight contest and 10th time overall this season as he extended his career-best double-digit scoring streak to nine games and pulled in five rebounds. Freshman Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) scored in double figures for the third consecutive game with 12 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Rhoads was an impressive 8 of 9 at the line.
Gerald McLemore garnered America East Player of the Game honors for Maine as he poured in a career-high 30 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the floor, including 7 of 10 from behind the arc.
Maine never trailed in the game as they opened it on an 8-0 run with consecutive 3-pointers by McLemore getting it started. Junior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) and Abreu followed with treys of their own and a putback from junior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) tied the game at 16:39, but UNH would not hit another 3 the rest of the way.
A 3-pointer from Terrance Mitchell gave Maine the lead for good, 11-8, at 14:44, and still led by three, 13-10, when an old-fashioned 3-point play from Sean McNally opened the Black Bear lead to six at 12:33. Maine later led by five, 20-15, with 9:04 to play in the opening half, but a 10-0 run - sparked and capped by 3-pointers from McLemore, who had eight points during the stretch - widened its advantage to 15 with 6:44 to play.
After freshman Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) stopped the run with a layup, McLemore hit another 3 to put his team up 33-17 with just under five minutes remaining. Four straight points from Conley and a basket from Rhoads, which answered a Junior Bernal layup, sliced the deficit to 12 at 35-23, but a 3 from Murphy Burnatowski and a layup from Mike Allison pushed the lead to 17 (40-23) with 2:16 on the clock.
Myrick responded with a jumper and Rhoads knocked down two of his free throws to climb within 13, but Mitchell was fouled shooting a 3 at the buzzer and went to the line where he sank all three to close the scoring and give his team a 43-27 lead at the break.
Conley recorded seven points and six boards and DiLiegro posted five points and seven boards, while Myrick chipped in with six points off the bench.
McLemore started the second half with a pair of free throws followed by a layup at 18:49 that pushed Maine's lead to 20 at 47-27, their largest of the game. Back-to-back jumpers and a pair of free throws from Abreu sparked a 9-0 run that was capped by a Rhoads three-point play, which sliced the deficit to 47-36 with 16:05 to play.
That was the closest the Wildcats would get as a rare four-point play from McLemore switched the momentum and opened the lead back up to 15, 51-36, at 15:35. The teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the way with UNH getting to within 14 (61-47) on a layup by Abreu with 5:40 remaining, but McLemore squashed any hopes of a comeback with another 3-pointer that pushed the lead back to 17. The lead was still 17 (70-53) when Troy Barnies sealed the win with a dunk with eight seconds on the clock.
Sophomore Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) tallied six points, three boards and two steals in 17 solid minutes off the bench.
Despite turning the ball over 21 times - seven more than UNH - and getting outrebounded on the offensive glass, 14-2, Maine was 10-for-19 (52.6 percent) from deep to more than make up for the disparity. Overall, the Black Bears outshot the Wildcats, 51.2 percent (21-41) to 28.1 percent (16-57), but was outrebounded 34-33.
Barnies added 14 points and five boards for the Black Bears, while Burnatowski chipped in with 10 points, six rebounds, four blocks and a steal.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. when they take on Loyola (Md.) in their ESPN BracketBusters game at the Greyhounds' Reitz Arena. The ‘Cats then return home to finish out their regular season with games at Lundholm Gymnasium on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. against UMBC and Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. against Stony Brook.