DURHAM, N.H. – Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) scored 25 of his career-high 33 points in the second half, helping the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team rally from a 16-point deficit to earn a 57-54 victory against the University of Hartford at Lundholm Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
UNH, in earning its first America East conference victory of the season, snapped a four-game skid to improve to 7-9 on the year, 1-3 in league play. The Hawks saw their three-game winning streak halted, tumbling to 5-11, 2-1 in AE play.
The 33 points were the most for a Wildcat since Nov. 25, 2000 when Austin Ganly poured in 34 in a 96-89 victory at Dartmouth College. The 33 is also the most for an America East player this season, surpassing the 32 points Boston University's Darryl Partin racked up against Cornell on Nov. 27.
Conley's magical night included a personal-best 10 field goals in 16 attempts, including 6 of 10 from beyond the arc, 7-for-8 at the free throw line and a throwdown dunk on the receiving end of an alley-oop from sophomore Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.), staking the 'Cats to a 52-47 advantage with 6:40 remaining. Conley, UNH's America East Player of the Game, added five rebounds, two steals and a block in 40 minutes.
Morgan Sabia led Hartford in the losing cause, going 8-for-13 for 20 points to earn America East Player of the Game honors.
Trailing 30-18 at halftime, the Wildcats put together a 20-2 run early in the second half on the strength of six straight 3-point field goals, with Conley burying four treys and scoring 14 of the points during the spurt that gave New Hampshire a 38-32 lead with 14:42 remaining in the game.
Rhoads finished with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting, and a game-high four assists.
An 8-1 run gave Hartford a 40-39 lead with 12:01 to play, but a Conley trey and a pair of free throws from freshman DeAndray Buckley (Romulus, Mich.) put UNH back on top, 44-40, midway through the half. After a Milton Burton basket, another Conley triple made it 47-42 with 9:13 remaining.
Hartford answered with a 3-pointer of its own before junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) canned one from the top of the key to push the lead back to five. A Sabia layup brought the Hawks within three before the Rhoads-to-Conley alley-oop that brought down the house.
Four straight from the Hawks sliced their deficit to one, 52-51, with 2:32 to play before a Rhoads layup just 12 seconds later opened the lead to three. Sabia drilled a 3 at the other end to tie the game at 54 with 1:10 on the clock. Conley closed the scoring with 1 of 2 at the line with 44 seconds left and then a pair with 21 ticks remaining before Burton's last-second 3-point attempt was no good.
The Wildcats shot 66.7 percent (12-18) from the floor in the second half, which is their best field goal percentage in any half since Jan. 28, 2009 when they also hit at a 66.7 percent (14-21) clip in the second stanza to erase a nine-point deficit and earn a 71-60 victory at Stony Brook University.
Benson tallied seven points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal in a career-high 36 minutes, while Buckley chipped in with four points and two assists in 12 minutes.
Hartford applied a 1-3-1 zone defense that stymied New Hampshire into committing 15 turnovers and shooting only 5 of 15 during the first half. The Hawks capitalized offensively, hitting 6-of-10 three-point field goals in the half, including a perfect 3-for-3 from Genesis Maciel, to open as large as a 16-point lead before heading to the locker room with a 30-18 advantage.
Senior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) pulled down a game-high 11 boards. Freshman Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) added three points and four assists in a career-high 31 minutes in just the third start of his career.
UNH shot a season-high 51.5 percent (17-33) from the floor, including 47.4 percent (9-19) from behind the arc. Hartford shot 40 percent (20-50) from the floor, as well as 40 percent (8-20) from deep. The Wildcats also held a 28-23 advantage on the glass. Hartford turned the ball over just eight times while forcing 20 UNH turnovers as they held a 22-11 edge in points off turnovers.
Conley finished the night with 1,069 points and moved past Eric Montanari (1,038) for 20th place on UNH's all-time scoring list.
UNH hits the road to meet Stony Brook on Saturday, Jan. 15, beginning at 2 p.m. The next home game for the Wildcats takes place Thursday, Jan. 20, when the University of Vermont invades Lundholm Gym for a 7 p.m. game. For tickets, call (603) 862-4000, x5 or CLICK HERE.