WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) rebounded from a scoreless first half to collect a team-leading 16 points, but the UNH men's basketball team dropped a 69-60 decision to Boston University on Saturday night in the quarterfinal round of the America East Championship presented by Newman's Own at the Chase Family Arena.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats close out the 2010-11 campaign with a record of 12-18, while the second-seeded Terriers improve to 19-13. BU will advance to face the winner of the No. 3 seed University of Maine versus No. 6 seed University of Hartford quarterfinal game on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m.
The Wildcats trailed 33-30 at the half without the benefit of a point from Conley, who missed all five of his first-half field goal attempts. The All-Conference Second Team guard bounced back after the intermission by hitting 5 of 6 shots, including a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc and 2 of 3 from the free throw line. In his collegiate finale, Conley added four rebounds, three assists a steal and a blocked shot.
Freshman point guard Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) matched a career high with 13 points, including seven of UNH's first 12 points, as the Wildcats raced out to a 12-3 lead. The America East All-Rookie Team selection finished the night 5 of 12 from the field, draining a pair of 3-pointers, dishing out two assists and committing no turnovers in 38 minutes.
Sophomore Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Pa.) powered his way to 15 points, adding a team-high four assists, and junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) pulled down a game-high 11 boards to accompany his seven points on 2 of 5 shooting.
The Terriers also put three scorers in double digits, led by America East Player of the Year John Holland's 17 points. Darryl Partin and D.J. Irving chipped in with 11 points apiece, and Patrick Hazel pumped in nine points and grabbed 10 boards in BU's ninth consecutive victory.
BU led 37-32 just two minutes into the second half when consecutive 3s by Conley, sandwiched around a Dom Morris layup, sliced the UNH deficit to just one at 39-38 with 15 minutes remaining. That was as close as the Wildcats would get, however, as five straight Terrier points opened their lead to six.
UNH fell behind by seven when consecutive treys by Conley – with a Partin layup mixed in – sliced the deficit to 52-50 with 9:28 to play. The Terriers would push their lead back to seven (61-54) with 5:27 left before a Holland dunk with a minute to go widened it to eight at 66-58.
Senior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) posted six points and eight assists.
A baseline jumper from Rhoads opened the scoring, and after Holland made 1 of 2 at the line, a Benson 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 5-1 lead to open the game. After an Irving layup, a 3-pointer and a pair of layups from Bronner opened the UNH lead to 12-3 with 14:47 on the clock.
BU quickly struck back, however, using a 9-0 run to knot the game at 12 with 12:18 remaining. After a Rhoads trey on the following possession, the Terriers ripped off a 9-2 run to grab a 21-17 advantage with 8:40 to play. A Rhoads jumper sliced it to two, but an 8-2 run expanded BU's lead to 29-21 with 2:18 left. The Wildcats would whittle the deficit down, however, before senior James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) knocked down a 3-ball from the corner as time expired to send his team into the locker room, trailing just 33-30.
The Terriers outshot UNH, 46 percent (23-50) to 39.3 percent (22-56), while the Wildcats held a 37.5 percent (9-24) to 20 percent (3-15) advantage from deep. BU outrebounded the 'Cats, 38-32, and held a 38-18 advantage in the paint. Both teams combined for just 11 turnovers.
Conley finished with 1,304 career points to pass Scott Drapeau (1,290) and wind up sixth on UNH's all-time scoring list, just 25 points behind former teammate Tyrece Gibbs. Conley also finished first in 3-point field goals attempted (680), tied for second in games played (116), third in 3-point field goals made (222), fifth in both field goals attempted (1,216) and minutes played (3,520), eighth in blocked shots (48), and 10th in both field goals made (442) and steals (115). This season he also finished first in 3-point field goals attempted (237) and fourth in 3-point field goals made (78) on UNH's single-season lists. DiLiegro finished second all-time in rebounding (854) and tied for second in games played (116).
This marked the final game for Conley, DiLiegro and Valladares. The trio finished one win shy of matching the all-time wins mark for a UNH senior class and also narrowly missed out on being the only UNH senior class ever to make three consecutive semifinal appearances.