NEW YORK, N.Y. - The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team dropped its first game of the season to Columbia University, 64-61, at the Tyler Ugolyn Columbia Classic Friday evening.
Chris Vetrano (Andover, Mass.) led New Hampshire offensively with 14 points. Mike Christensen (Reston, Va.) and Blagoj Janev (Sydney, Australia) each scored 11 points.
New Hampshire got on the board first with a lay up from Janev at 19:39. The Wildcats then went on a 15-2 run that lasted until 10:01 when Columbia's Kashif Sweet banked a jumper that started their own 6-0 run. The Lions tied the game 18-18 at 4:05. New Hampshire regained the lead when Christensen converted a free throw and was able to hang on through the remaining half. The Wildcats led 26-25 at the half.
Janev made a jump shot in the opening of the second half to extend New Hampshire's lead 28-25. Columbia tied the score 29-29 at 17:08 on a jumper from Sweet. The Wildcats answered back with a 3-pointer from Vetrano at 16:36. But the lead would not hold as Columbia started an 8-0 run before New Hampshire's next basket, a lay up from Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) at 13:50. Gibbs banked a jumper at 11:41 that closed the gap, 39-36 in favor of the Lions.
Down 55-45 with 5:38 remaining, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run before Columbia's John Baumann converted two free throws after a foul was called on Janev. New Hampshire added pressure when Vetrano sank a 3-pointer to close the gap to 57-55 at 1:37. Brandon Odom (Dorchester, Mass.) scored a lay up at the 10-second mark and cut the lead to 61-58. Columbia's Justin Armstrong converted two shots from behind the charity stripe after a foul on Christensen. Vetrano sank a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the game to make it a 2-point game, 63-61. A foul was called on Vetrano at three seconds and the Lions' Dalen Cuff made the free throw. Janev attempted a 3-pointer at the buzzer with no success.
New Hampshire (0-1) will play Quinnipiac University at 5 p.m. Saturday in the consolation game.