WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Senior Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) scored a game-high 16 points and junior Patrick Konan (Gainesville, Fla.) added 11 points, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team fell at Hartford, 49-44, Wednesday evening at Chase Family Arena.
New Hampshire falls to 7-18 overall and 3-10 in America East, while Hartford improves to 15-12 on the season and 8-6 in conference play.
Rhoads, the America East Player of the Game, tallied 16 points to go with three rebounds and a pair of assists. Konan shot 4-of-8 from the floor, including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, to pair with a team-high seven rebounds. Junior Chris Pelcher (Albany, N.Y.) registered a career-high five blocks on the defensive end.
Mark Nwakamma paced the Hawks with 12 points, while Nate Sikma added 11 points.
New Hampshire shot 32 percent in the contest and limited the Hawks to 28.8 percent shooting from the floor.
Hartford jumped out to an early lead, taking advantage of four Wildcat turnovers in the opening four minutes for the 6-2 lead at the first media timeout. The Hawks went on to score four points over the next four minutes to stretch their lead to eight at the 11:59 mark.
UNH bounced back with eight unanswered points, sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Rhoads and freshman Logan Mortenson (South Jordan, Utah), while Rhoads capped the stretch with a bucket down low to tie the game, 10-10, at 7:10.
Hartford snapped its 5:16 scoreless skid with an 8-0 run as Sikma hit a 3-pointer and Corban Wroe converted a three-point play to move out in front, 18-10, with 3:15 left in the first half.
Mortenson was able to knock down a couple of free throws down the stretch to trim the deficit to 18-12 at intermission. Rhoads and Mortenson paced UNH with five points apiece in the opening half, while the Wildcats blocked five shots on the defensive end.
Hartford kicked off the second half five straight points before senior Chris Matagrano (Sayreville, N.J.) hit a short jumper to start a 5-0 Wildcat run as Rhoads scored the next three points to cut the lead to six, 23-17, with 16:42 remaining.
The Hawks responded with a 7-2 run over the next three minutes to take an 11-point lead until Konan drilled a trey with a hand in his face to break up the stretch. Pelcher converted a tough hook shot in the paint on the next UNH possession to slice the deficit to six, 30-24.
After a Hartford free throw, UNH jumped right back into the game on back-to-back Konan 3-pointers, pulling within one, 31-30, at the midway point of the half.
Hartford answered back with a quick turnaround jumper from Nwakamma to start a 5-0 stretch, but the Wildcats rallied with seven unanswered points to take the lead. After Mortenson started the run with a baseline layup and Konan followed with a cut to the basket, Rhoads pulled up for a quick trey to push the visitors in front, 37-36, at 6:53.
The teams then traded trips to the charity stripe until the Hawks used a 3-pointer from Parker U'u to take a four-point lead at 43-39. Pelcher responded on the other end by collecting an offensive board and finished with a lay-in to cut the lead to 43-41 at 1:15.
New Hampshire held possession after a Hartford missed shot, but a costly turnover allowed a pair of Hawk free throws to increase the lead to four. Rhoads raced back on the other end and drove hard to the basket, drawing the foul for the eventual three-point play, but Hartford went 4-of-4 at the line during the final 11 seconds to seal the victory.
The Wildcats return to action on Sunday, Feb. 24 when they play host to Binghamton at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on WBIN-TV and FOX College Sports. For tickets, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.