Men's Basketball: UNH wins in opener against Suffolk
The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team opened up its first game of the season at home in winning fashion Saturday night against Division III opponent Suffolk University at Lundholm Gymnasium. UNH seniors Patrick Konan and Chris Pelcher led the way with 44 combined points to propel the team past Suffolk 94-70.
Suffolk found a groove late in the first half with 8:35 remaining, down 25-15. But Rams guard Jake Meister, who put up consecutive three-pointers that led to an 11-0 run, kept Suffolk in the game. However, the Rams would trail in the game for all but 11 seconds, when a Sam Nwadike free throw put the Rams up 26-25 with 6:15 left in the first half until UNH freshmen guard Jaleen Smith hit a three point jumper behind the arch to get in front 28-26.
The Wildcats ran away with the game from there.
New Hampshire went on a tear in the second half, shooting 63.0 percent from the floor, going 17-27 in field goals. The key scorers for the Wildcats over the course of the game were Pelcher and Konan.
Pelcher, a senior center for the Wildcats thrived offensively scoring 25 points, while grabbing 17 rebounds for his first double-double of the young season. Pelcher pointed out to his fellow guards in the aid of his scoring frenzy.
"It's great finally go out play in a real game situation," Pelcher said. "Being a big guy, you have to give credit to the guards. They are the guys that give you ball. Scott Morris and Jordon Bronner did a great job hitting me with an open shot in the paint, but it was really a team effort more than anything."
New Hampshire struggled in the first half defensively, allowing seven three-pointers from the opposing Suffolk scorers to keep their team in the game. It was the lack of intensity in the first half from the Wildcats that allowed Suffolk to stay in the game, according to UNH head coach Bill Herrion.
"I was really disappointed with the intensity in the first half," Herrion said. "We are a team that prides itself on defense, which it wasn't like in the first half. The second half got better, but it needs work. We know we can score, but playing better defensively is a priority for us."
Defensively, the Wildcats improved in the second half, allowing Suffolk to shoot 24.3 percent from the field. Being a team heavily based on their defense, UNH showed exactly how overwhelming they can be.
On the boards, Pelcher dominated on the defensive end with his large and tall frame at his advantage. Pelcher blocked two shots in the second half, to go along with his 13 defensive rebounds.
In the second half, New Hampshire found its groove offensively. UNH went on a key 22-9 run that started at 15:33 with a Patrick Konan layup. Konan, a senior guard for the Wildcats scored 10 of his 19 points in the second half, shooting 5-6. The offensive run went over the course of eight minutes, and became the final blow to the Rams, who could not find a way to get back in the game the rest of the way being down 78-54 with 7:21 remaining.
The second half was filled with many contributors on offense for the 'Cats.
Jordon Bronner, a senior guard, scored eight of his 12 points in the half, along with freshmen guard Daniel Dion who was lights out from deep going 2-3 in the half and 4-7 overall in the game. Dion scored nine of his 14 points in the second half to top of the first game of his young career.
Pelcher slowed down offensively in the second half scoring eight points, grabbing five boards and two blocks to add on to his impressive night.
New Hampshire would end the game on freshmen forward William Gabriels layup with 1:05 remaining to take a 94-70 lead and the final score of the game.
Herrion was overall content with the winning outcome but feels the team still has a lot to work on.
"First game of the year and we have a lot of work to do," Herrion said. "We have five true freshmen on this team and I thought they played very well. Obviously, Pelcher was terrific inside offensively along with Konan who has a great knack of scoring. Defensively, we need to get tighter on assignments and it's something we have to work on."
UNH shot 55.0 percent from the floor for the game, including 63.0 percent during the second half. The Wildcats held a 51-36 rebounding advantage and held a commanding 48-22 scoring advantage in the paint.
Konan was impressed with the team's offensive game, but noted that the team needs work on defense.
"I don't think we played the way we were supposed to play," Konan said. "Defense was kind of sloppy in the beginning. But we played better over the course of the game. We know we can score offensively, just got to get better on defense."
The Wildcats return to action when they travel to Duquesne University on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
Rob Wilson can be reached on Twitter @RobWilson_TNH
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