DURHAM, N.H. – Frank Okeke (DeSoto, Texas) drained three of his four 3-point field goals and went 4-for-5 for 11 points, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball dropped a 68-60 America East conference game to the University of Maine on Wednesday night at Lundholm Gym.
Xavier Pollard scored a game high 20 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Shaun Lawton scored six points and dished out nine assists to lead the Black Bears. Ethan Mackey (12 points) and Till Gloger (10 points) also registered double-figures for Maine, which improves to 4-16 overall and 2-6 in the America East Conference.
Senior Chris Pelcher (Albany, N.Y.) registered a team-high 13 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks to pace the Wildcats. Okeke added 11 points and Daniel Dion (Cedar Park, Texas) chipped in with 10 points and two assists for UNH, which falls to 5-16 overall and 3-5 in America East Conference play.
Maine scored on its first two possessions to open a quick 4-0 lead one minute into the game. UNH responded with four-straight to knot the score at 4-4. Pelcher got it started for the Wildcats with a layup off a feed from Dion, before Armstrong scored a layup of his own.
After Maine regained an 8-4 advantage, UNH used a 5-0 run to claim its first lead of the night. Dion netted his first two points on a layup before Okeke buried his first trey to put UNH ahead.
With the score tied 11-11 Maine launched a 12-2 run to pull ahead 23-13. The Wildcats fought back to close out the first half, slowly chipping away at the Black Bear advantage to knot the score, 35-35, at the break.
Pelcher led all scorers with 10 first-half points, while Okeke added nine for the Wildcats. Pollard, Gloger, and Mackey all ended the first with eight points apiece for Maine, which shot 57.1% (16 of 28) from the floor in the opening frame. UNH shot 46.7% (14-for-30) from the field, including 55.6% (5 of 9) from downtown.
UNH opened the second half with a 6-3 run to take a 41-38 lead. Dion nailed a jumper to get UNH on the board first in the second, but Zarko Valjarevic answered with a jumper to quickly tie the score. Pelcher got the lead back for UNH when he slammed home a fastbreak dunk off a feed from Jaleen Smith (Freeport, Texas). After a Maine free throw UNH capped the run on another layup by Dion to go ahead 41-38.
Maine responded with a 7-0 run to recapture a 45-41 lead. The teams then traded baskets over the next seven minutes.
Holding a 58-54 lead, the Black Bears used a 6-0 run to take a 10-point advantage with 4:30 remaining in the contest. UNH couldn't recover, as Maine closed out a 68-60 victory.
The Black Bears finished with a 41.0% (25 of 61) shooting percentage for the game, while holding UNH to 40.3% (25-for-62) percent from the floor. Maine won the free throw battle however, converting on 15 of 21 from the charity stripe, to UNH's 4-for-7.
The Wildcats have a week off before traveling to Baltimore for an America East matchup with UMBC on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. UNH returns home on Wednesday, Feb. 12 for a meeting with Binghamton. For tickets, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.