DURHAM, N.H. – Senior Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 20 points and sophomore Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) added 18 as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team opened its season with a 79-47 victory against Lesley University on Saturday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats win their fourth straight home opener and third straight season opener to kick off the year at 1-0. After going 9-4 at home last season, the 'Cats have now won 13 of their last 17 contests at Lundholm dating back to the 2008-09 season.
Abreu, the America East Player of the Game, was 5-for-11 from the floor and a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line. Myrick shot 8 of 14 from the floor and pulled in seven rebounds.
UNH held a 9-6 lead five minutes into the game before a 9-3 run – sparked by an Abreu 3-pointer and closed by an Abreu layup – made it 18-7 with 12:24 to play. After Lesley closed to within nine just two minutes later, Myrick hit a 3 and finished a layup in traffic on consecutive possessions to make it 26-12 with 8:01 to play in the opening half.
A 6-0 run by the Lynx cut it to eight with 4:34 remaining, and the margin would remain there until the Wildcats netted the final three points of the half, including a Myrick jumper at 1:04. UNH, which posted a 12-2 record when leading at the half last season, led 37-26 at the break.
The Wildcats led 39-29 just 2:21 into the second half before ripping off a 14-0 run that widened the gap to 53-29 with 13:48 remaining. Sophomore point guard Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) scored five points during the run, which was capped by a Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) jumper. The defense clamped down during the stretch, causing five turnovers and forcing Lesley to miss all five of their attempts from the field.
With their lead still at 24 with 12:15 to play, the 'Cats went on a 15-3 run that was capped by a Ryan Herrion (Dover, N.H.) 3-pointer, which put the game out of reach at 72-36 with 7:27 on the clock. Junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) kicked off the run with a two-handed put-back slam off a missed layup that got the crowd stirring. Myrick gave the fans reason to keep cheering later in the run when he drove the lane and flushed an alley-oop opportunity from junior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.). Conley and Herrion then closed the stretch with back-to-back 3s.
Lesley cut the deficit to 34 (76-42) before a 3-pointer from the left wing by freshman Scott Morris (Walkersville, Md.) gave UNH its largest lead of the game with 3:26 to play. The Lynx scored the final five points to close out the contest.
Rhoads netted 14 points to go along with a game-high five assists and two steals, while Benson chipped in with five points and eight boards. Conley nearly filled the stat sheet with five points, three rebounds, three assists and a career-high four steals. Bronner added four points and two assists. Senior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) recorded four points and six rebounds, while freshman DeAndray Buckley (Romulus, Mich.) added three points, seven rebounds, two assists and a pair of blocks.
UNH outshot Lesley, 46 percent (29-63) to 37 percent (19-51), including 50 percent (16-32) to 28 percent (7-25) in the second half. The Wildcats also turned the ball over just 11 times, while forcing 25 turnovers, and held a 38-36 edge on the glass.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. when they take on intrastate rival Dartmouth College at Leede Arena.