STONY BROOK, N.Y.- For the first time since Feb. 2, 2002, the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team has won three consecutive games following its hard-fought 54-50 America East victory at Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon. The squad was led by junior forward Blagoj Janev (Sydney, Australia) with 17 points.
The Wildcats (5-11, 3-3) have posted three consecutive wins over the likes of Hartford, UMBC and now the Seawolves (3-11, 1-4). During the 2001-02 season, UNH defeated Binghamton, Northeastern and Stony Brook on Feb. 2 to put a string of three wins together.
The contest went down to the wire and UNH preserved the victory with solid defense and solid free throw shooting. The Wildcats forced Stony Brook to make three crucial turnovers in the final 1:54 seconds, while preserving the victory with 7-8 marksmanship from behind the charity stripe.
Stony Brook led for much of the contest and was up 30-25 with 5:11 into the second half thanks to seven points by Mike Popoko. However, UNH would not go away and took the lead on a conventional three-point play by sophomore forward Brandon Odom (Dorchester, Mass.) to give the Wildcats a 44-40 advantage with 5:35 to play in the contest. The Seawolves responded one more time and led 45-44 following a layup by Mitchell Beauford with 4:25 on the cloock. UNH took the lead for good after a free throw by Janev and a layup down low by junior forward Jamaal Caterina (Portland, Maine) to give UNH a 47-45 lead with just two minutes to play. Four made free throws, two by sophomore forward Mike Christensen (Reston, Va.) and two by junior guard Jermaine Anderson (Beverly Mass.) in the final 16 seconds of the contest iced the win for the Wildcats.
Bobby Santiago led the Seawolves in scoring with 17 points while Popoko added 12 points.
In addition to the 17 points by Janev, Anderson chipped in 10 points for UNH and Christensen led all UNH players on the boards with seven. Anderson also had four assists and three steals in his outstanding efforts.
UNH connected on 12-15 free throws in the contest and committed just 10 turnovers to Stony Brook's 19.
The Wildcats will return home to Lunhdolm Gymnasium this week to play five of its next six contests in front of its home crowd. It all starts on Mon. Jan. 16 when UNH entertains cross-state rival Dartmouth. Game time is 7 p.m. in Lundholm.