Men’s Basketball Drops Heartbreaker at NJIT, 69-67

NEWARK, N.J. – Senior Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) notched a career-high 21 points but the Wildcats were victims of a last-second lay-in as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team lost a heartbreaker to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 69-67, Wednesday evening at the Fleisher Athletic Center.

New Hampshire drops to 2-2 overall, while NJIT evens up at 2-2 on the season.

Rhoads, who scored 14 points in the second half, shot 8-of-15 from the field to go along with six rebounds. Junior Chris Pelcher (Albany, N.Y.) racked up career-bests of 17 points and 11 boards for his first career double-double, shooting 7-of-14 from the floor with four blocks. Junior Patrick Konan (Gainesville, Fla.) added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, to round out the double-digit scorers. Junior Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) dished out a career-high eight assists.

Chris Flores led NJIT with 23 points, including the game-winning basket, while P.J. Miller added 10 points.

NJIT raced out to the early 4-0 lead behind a pair of buckets by Flores, but the Wildcats climbed back with a presence down low as senior Chris Matagrano (Sayreville, N.J.) and  Pelcher combined for six points to trim the deficit to 8-7 at 16:45.

UNH then turned to the long ball as Konan scored the team's next eight points, including a pair from beyond the arc, to push the visitors up by four. Rhoads drilled a 3-pointer on the next possession to give the Wildcats the 20-13 advantage with 10:22 remaining in the opening half.

From there, the teams swapped baskets over the next four minutes as UNH maintained an eight-point lead at 27-19, but the Highlanders fought back with 10 straight points to gain the lead, 29-27, at 3:35.

NJIT's lead did not last long as UNH ended the half with an 8-0 run, highlighted by Konan's third 3-pointer of the half, to give the Wildcats the 35-29 lead at intermission. Konan led all players with 11 points at the break.

The Highlanders kicked off the second half with a 7-3 spurt to pull within two until Rhoads drove hard to the basket to push the visitors on top, 40-36, at the first media timeout. Shortly after the break, senior Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) came up with a thundering block on the defensive end, allowing junior Scott Morris (Walkersville, Md.) to hit the open trey in transition for the seven-point lead at 13:47.

Rhoads kept the Wildcats in front over the next five minutes as he scored seven of the team's nine points during the span for the 54-47 lead with 8:46 left to play.

After Flores and Konan exchanged 3-pointers, the Highlanders reeled off an 8-2 run to take a brief one-point lead at 60-59. UNH answered right back as Pelcher threw down a dunk and Myrick converted a layup to push the Wildcats back on top, 63-60, with 4:13 remaining.

NJIT managed to even up the score at 63 apiece, but Pelcher came back on the next play with a hook shot in the paint and drew the foul for the eventual 3-point play and 66-63 lead at the 1:06 mark.

Once again, the Highlanders stormed back as Flores hit a layup and a pair of free throws for the 67-66 advantage. On the next possession, Myrick drew a foul on a drive to the basket and drained a free throw to even the score at 67-67 with 18 seconds left to play.

Flores held the ball at the top of the key for the final possession and was able to find space on a drive to the left side, sending in a finger roll with less than a second left on the clock to lift the home side to victory.

The Wildcats return to action on Saturday, Nov. 24 when they visit Holy Cross at 4 p.m.

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