UNH knocks out UMBC in OT
The UNH men's basketball team (6-19, 4-8 in America East) seemed to be facing an uphill battle on Wednesday evening in the Lundholm Gymnasium during a clash with their inter-conference rivals from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (7-16, 3-8 in America East).
After suffering an 11-point loss to UMBC on the road in January, Coach Bill Herrion's team was desperate to prove to their fans (as well as themselves) that the Wildcats are not to be taken lightly. And on Wednesday night, Herrion and New Hampshire did just that as UNH came through with a 92-86 victory.
From the tip-off straight through to half time, the game looked as if it was going to be UMBC's to lose.
Baltimore County was locked in from behind the arc, with four players scoring from distance in the first half. Senior Brian Neller and Sophmore Joey Getz combined for 6-8 shooting from 3-point territory in the first half. Their consistent 3-point shooting mixed with high energy defense to force turnovers led the Retrievers to a 16 point lead with 8:30 left in the first half.
Coming into the second half, the 'Cats were facing a 43-33 deficit and understood what it would take to win.
"We were scoring, but we really have to tighten up the defensive end of the floor," UNH Head Coach Bill Herrion said.
UNH, with the third best perimeter defense in collegiate basketball, would have to lock down the aerial onslaught that UMBC assailed them with from the 3-point line in the first half.
Not only did New Hampshire limit the Retrievers' shooting to a paltry 10 of 29 from the floor in the second half, but with offensive execution from household names such as junior Patrick Konan (22 points, 10 rebounds) and relative new comer junior Chris Pelcher (13 points, five rebounds, three steals), the Wildcats began to dominate the floor.
Feeding off of key defensive plays, the offense surged and Baltimore County's 16-point lead had become a two-point lead for the Wildcats with 6 minutes left in the game.
As time began to wind down UMBC was forced to resort to intentional fouls.
Junior Jordan Bronner gave UNH a three-point lead from the foul line with 11 seconds to go. In a last ditch effort the Retrievers marched down the court and put the ball back into the hands of Brian Neller, who drained a buzzer-beating three-point shot from deep behind the arc, sending the game to overtime.
As overtime began, the momentum had fully shifted in UNH's favor. They continued to dominate inside the paint and used their strength inside to steadily build a lead as time continued to wind down in the extra period.
When Baltimore County was once again forced to foul, it was clear that the Wildcats had battled back for the win.
Senior Ferg Myrick stepped to the foul line and made both free throws to guarantee a UNH victory.
"We are playing better basketball," Herrion said. "What I told the guys is we have five games left in the conference, (and) now it is just one at a time. We can win every game here we just have to take it one at a time."
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