WEST HARTFORD, CT - Despite 21 points from junior Marcus Bullock (Cherry Hill, N.J.) on 7 for 13 shooting on three-pointers, the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team dropped a four-point decision, 88-84, Saturday to the Hartford Hawks at the Chase Family Arena.
Hartford freshman Aaron Cook (Randallstown, MD) led five Hawks in double figures with a career-high 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting. The Hawks improved to 5-6 overall and 1-0 in the America East. New Hampshire dropped to 1-10 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
Hartford came out of the blocks quickly to grab an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes. New Hampshire countered with the next five points but fell behind by 14 points at 36-22 with 3:41 to play in the half. A furious rally in the closing moments brought the Wildcats back, as freshmen Shejdie Childs (Wynnewood, Pa.) and Ioannis Karalis (Athens, Greece) each scored four in the spurt to cut the Hartford lead to 42-38 by the break.
UNH trailed for the first eight minutes of the second half before a three-pointer by freshman Ronnie Dennis (Abbeville, Ala.) gave the Wildcats their first lead, 59-56, at the 11:18 mark. New Hampshire led by as many as six points with 8:01 to go before Hartford went on a run to reclaim the lead. Back-to-back layups from senior Pierre Johnson (Glenarden, MD) and a three-pointer by junior Ryan Stys (Hooksett, NH) gave Hartford the 68-67 lead with 6:47 to play, and the Hawks would never trail again.
Childs and Dennis each finished with 15 points while Karalis and junior Griffin Walker (Coffeyville, Kan.) netted 11 and 10 points, respectively. Hartford shot 46 percent from the field for the game and outrebounded New Hampshire 34-30. The Wildcats shot 52 percent from the floor and 54 percent from three-point range for the game.
The Wildcats would not go down easily. In the final five minutes they cut the Hartford lead to two points on four separate occasions, only to see the Hawks counter with big baskets. Stys and Cook each buried threes to give Hartford back a five point lead late in the game, and the Hawks connected on 5-of-7 attempts from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the win.
Junior Jerell Parker (Chicago, IL) scored 19 points, pulled down eight rebounds and had three steals and three assists. Senior Wayne McClinton (Jersey City, NJ) netted a season-high 13 points and was 9-of-12 from the charity stripe while Stys and Johnson each finished with 12.
The Wildcats return to action on Wednesday when they play host to the Maine Black Bears at Lundholm Gymnasium (7 p.m.).