KINGSTON, R.I. – Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) scored 16 points, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team fell to the University of Rhode Island, 64-52, Saturday afternoon at the Ryan Center.
The Wildcats drop their second straight game for the first time all year as they fall to 5-4. The Rams improve to 7-4.
Conley, the America East Player of the Game, added four rebounds, two assists and a block in 35 minutes.
Delroy James led URI with 22 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
UNH led 5-2 after a Conley 3-pointer just 2:41 into the contest, but an 8-0 Rhode Island run made it 10-5 at 15:50. The lead was still five (17-12) midway through the half when junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) canned a 3 from the top of the key to slice it back to two. The Rams followed with a 13-1 run, however, to open up a 30-16 lead with 5:16 to play in the opening half.
A 3-pointer from sophomore Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) and a jumper from freshman Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) cut the deficit to nine with 4:40 remaining, but a 7-0 URI run gave the Rams their largest lead of the game at 37-21 with 2:29 left. A three-point play by freshman DeAndray Buckley (Romulus, Mich.) closed the scoring with just under a minute to play as the Wildcats went into the locker room trailing 37-24.
Buckley chipped in with 11 points and three rebounds in a career-best 23 minutes, while Myrick added 10 points and two boards in just 12 minutes. Benson tallied three points, seven boards, two assists, a block and a steal in a season-high 26 minutes, and Bronner recorded four points, four rebounds and two assists.
Baskets by sophomore Chris Matagrano (Sayreville, N.J.) and Conley to open the half cut the deficit to nine, and after a Marquis Jones 3-pointer, layups by Buckley and Conley brought the Wildcats to within 40-32 with 15:24 remaining. The deficit was still eight (42-34) two minutes later when James knocked down consecutive 3s from the left wing to push the URI lead to 14 with 12:40 to play.
UNH fought back with layups from Buckley and senior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) making it 48-38 at 10:24. Daniel West answered with a 3, but a Conley layup and a pair of free throws from Buckley at 7:03 kept the 'Cats within nine. James answered on a bucket inside, but Conley returned the favor with one of his three 3-pointers to make it 53-45 with just under five minutes left.
After URI pushed it back to 11 with three free throws, Conley drained another trey to make it 56-48 with 3:38 remaining. That would be as close as the Wildcats would get, however, as Matagrano answered a Nikola Malesevic triple with a baseline jumper, but another James 3 and a pair of West free throws made it 64-50 with 1:03 to play. Buckley closed the scoring on a layup with 0.8 seconds on the clock.
DiLiegro finished with two points and six boards.
UNH outshot Rhode Island 38 percent (18-48) to 36 percent (21-59) from the floor, but the Rams won the battle on the glass, 38-36, and turned the ball over just seven times, while forcing 17 turnovers.
Myrick has now scored in double figures in all nine games this season and has 10-plus in 10 straight and 12 of 13 dating back to last season.
The Wildcats return to action Wednesday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. when they take on Central Connecticut State University at Detrick Gymnasium.