Men's Basketball: New Hamsphire can't sustain fast start against Vermont
Despite leading by eight in the first half, the UNH men's basketball team was not able to upset the top seeded Vermont Catamounts, losing 77-60 in the America East quarterfinals.
"We just wanted to win," senior Jordan Bronner said. "We started the game off well, but we knew Vermont was going to make a run. They are an experienced team with five seniors. Despite all that, I felt we played well."
The Wildcats scored the first points of the game, a Jacoby Armstrong jumper. After exchanging points and the lead, the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run to go up 25-17, their largest lead of the game. Down 17-16, freshman Daniel Dion hit a 3, followed by a 3 from freshman Jaleen Smith. Senior Scott Morris finished off the run with a 3 of his own.
The Catamounts refused to go away, embarking on an 18-2 run over the final seven minutes of the first half, hitting the last 16 points. During the seven minute stretch, Vermont went 7-10 from the field, after having started 5-18. UVM out rebounded UNH 23 to eight, including nine offensive rebounds compared to UNH's one. The Wildcats had eight fouls at the end of the half compared to the Catamounts four.
New Hampshire was unable to recover in the second half, with Vermont's defense continuing its run of dominance from the first half. The first 3:47 of the second half saw the Wildcats score three, a 3-pointer from Bronner, while the Catamounts scored seven. UNH got within nine points two separate times, but UVM pulled away with a 7-0 run from the 1:35 mark to the 00:26 mark to end the game.
"When you have a combination of older veteran experience, maturity and basketball IQ you have a great combination," head coach Bill Herrion said. "We are predominantly a man-to-man defensive team, but we had to play a lot of zone."
Senior Patrick Konan scored 19 points and three rebounds over 26 minutes of play, shooting 3-4 beyond the arc. Bronner recorded 14 points, three assists and a rebound, but also committed a team high three turnovers. Dion chipped in 10 points, two assists and two rebounds.
The Catamounts had five players reach double figures in scoring. Senior Brian Voelkel led the way with a triple-double, the first ever in America East championship play, getting 10 points, 10 assists, and 14 rebounds.
UVM killed the Wildcats in the glass, out rebounding New Hampshire 40 to 19. Vermont also got 16 offensive rebounds and 21 second chance points. UNH's bench did provide a spark, scoring 35 points compared to the Catamount's 20.
"Everyone looks at our record and says bad year," Herrion said. "In this business, yes we are judged by our record and I understand that. This group of kids has unfortunately had a lot of injuries. You never want players to get hurt. When your key guys get hurt it makes it tough."
With the loss, New Hampshire's season ends with a 6-24 record. For Konan, Bronner, Chris Pelcher and Scott Morris, Saturday's game served as their last in a UNH uniform. Despite losing a lot of starting experience, Herrion sees a bright future.
"Despite all the injuries, what has come out of this season are five freshmen who have all proven that they can play at this level and are going to be great players at the University of New Hampshire down the road," Herrion said. "I have really enjoyed coaching this team, which may seem crazy with only six wins. Our future is very bright; we have great young players."
Follow Arjuna Ramgopal on Twitter @ArjunaRamgopal
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