January 23, 2011

Benson's First Career Double-Double Powers Men's Basketball Past UMBC, 80-60

DURHAM, N.H. – Junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) notched his first career double-double, scoring a career-high 15 points and collecting 16 rebounds, as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team recorded an 80-60 victory over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Sunday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium.

UNH improved its record to 8-11 overall, 2-5 in America East conference play, while UMBC fell to 3-17, 2-5 in America East. The Wildcats, who are 17-7 (.708) in their last 24 home contests, have now won five of the last seven meetings between the two teams at Lundholm.

In addition to his double-double, Benson, who was 4-for-7 from the floor and 1 of 2 from deep, swatted five shots to match his career high, sank a career-best six free throws on eight attempts and had one assist with zero turnovers in 34 minutes.

Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.), UNH's America East Player of the Game, led the Wildcats' best offensive outpouring of the season with 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the field, including 6 of 11 from three-point land, to extend his career-best double-digit scoring streak to 13 games. Conley, who is averaging 22.0 ppg over his last four and 15.8 ppg during his streak, dished out a career-high seven assists (zero turnovers), nabbed six rebounds, blocked three shots and recorded two steals in 37 minutes.

Sophomore point guard Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) also continued his stellar play with 15 points on 4 of 6 shooting, including a perfect 4 of 4 from behind the arc. Rhoads was 3-for-4 at the stripe and added four rebounds and two assists in just 21 minutes due to foul trouble. Rhoads extended his career-best double-digit scoring streak to five games (14.2 ppg) and is now averaging 11.0 ppg over his last nine.

Chris De La Rosa, UMBC's America East Player of the Game, led the Retrievers with a game-high 23 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in the losing cause.

UNH set a season high for points and 3-pointers, burying 14 of 27 attempts (51.9 percent) from beyond the arc. The Wildcats shot 51 percent overall on 26-of-51 shooting.

Benson scored seven of UNH's first 15 points, allowing the Wildcats to take a 15-6 lead with 15:05 left in the opening half. After UMBC responded with a 10-4 run, trimming New Hampshire's lead to three, Conley ended the run by driving from the right wing and throwing down a dunk for a 21-16 advantage with 8:13 remaining in the half.

After the Retrievers, who never led in the game, managed to forge a 26-26 tie on a pair of free throws from Laurence Jolicoeur, Conley would also serve as the catalyst for UNH's biggest spurt of the half, hitting a 3-pointer that jumpstarted a 12-0 run. Freshman Scott Morris (Walkersville, Md.) swished a trey from the top of the key and another from the right wing during that stretch, giving UNH its largest lead of the half, 38-26.

UMBC would score the final basket of the half on a half-court 3-point field goal from De La Rosa, closing UNH's halftime lead to 38-29.

 

The Retrievers still trailed by nine (48-39) just 5:18 into the second half when an 11-3 spurt by the Wildcats over the next 5:12 opened up a 59-42 lead. Baskets by Benson and senior James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) kicked off the run, followed by a Brian Neller 3-pointer. Sophomore Chris Matagrano (Sayreville, N.J.) kept the stretch alive with a pair of 18-foot jumpers before Conley finished it off with one of his six 3-pointers, which matched a career high.

After De La Rosa stopped the bleeding with a jumper, a 3-pointer from Rhoads and a pair of free throws for freshman Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) pushed the lead to 64-44 with 8:27 remaining. Later, a 3 from Jamar Wertz made it a 17-point game, but a 10-3 UNH run – bookended by a pair of Conley 3-pointers – made it 76-52 with just over four minutes to go. Midway through the run, Conley reeled in a long rebound, ran past everyone on the court and threw down an uncontested one-handed slam.

The Wildcats grabbed their largest lead of the game at 80-54 with 2:40 remaining before UMBC scored the final six points of the game.

Morris scored nine points on 3 of 7 shooting from long distance, while Valladares and Matagrano chipped in with four and six points, respectively. Bronner dropped in a career-high eight to go along with a career-best five assists (one turnover) and three rebounds.

The Retrievers shot 36.7 percent (22-60) from the field and 33.3 percent (6-18) from deep. Both teams grabbed 33 rebounds and turned the ball over just eight times. UNH finished with a season-high 17 assists on 26 baskets.

Conley finished with 1,124 career points and moved past Erie Feragne (1,105) and Peter Laskaris (1,115) for 17th place on UNH's all-time scoring list.

UNH visits the University of Maine on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Wildcat Sports Radio Network beginning with the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. The next Wildcats' home game is slated for Saturday, Jan. 29, against Boston University at 3 p.m. For  tickets, CLICK HERE or call (603) 862-4000, x 5.

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