BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 19 points and senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) notched his second career double-double, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team was downed by the University of Vermont, 72-56, Sunday afternoon at Patrick Gymnasium.
The Wildcats fall to 7-11 on the season, including 2-4 in America East, while the Catamounts up their record to 14-6 overall and 5-2 in the conference.
Abreu added three rebounds, an assist and a steal in a season-high 40 minutes, while Gibbs, UNH's America East Player of the Game, tallied 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
UNH started the game out on the right foot when local product Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) returned to his hometown and drained a 3-pointer 1:36 into the game to stake his team to a 3-0 lead. After a Colin McIntosh jumper, a Marqus Blakely free throw dissolved UNH’s lead – the final one it would hold on the day. Blakely and Abreu would trade a pair at the line before the teams swapped buckets to tie the game at seven with 15:47 remaining.
An Evan Fjeld jumper and Maurice Joseph trey opened up a five-point lead for UVM – a lead it would never give up – but after Mike Trimboli and Gibbs traded layups, the Wildcats received back-to-back baskets from sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) and Gibbs to cut their deficit to one. An old fashioned three-point play by Fjeld and a Trimboli jumper quickly pushed the lead up to six for Vermont, but a put-back by freshman forward Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) and a 3 from junior guard Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) again sliced the lead to one.
The Catamounts responded once more, however, going on a 9-0 run to take a 28-18 lead with 8:14 left in the opening half. The two teams kept trading blows and with Vermont up 39-29 with 2:14 to go, the Catamounts kicked their lead up to 14 with a free throw from Garvey Young and a 3-pointer by Trimboli with 1:07 on the clock. Vermont took a 45-31 lead into the break.
The Catamounts did not let up in the second half, opening with a 9-1 run – capped by a Blakely layup – to grab their largest lead of the game (54-36) just 2:09 in. With the lead still at 22 three and a half minutes later, UNH used an 8-1 run – finished off with an Abreu basket – to slice its deficit to 59-44 midway through the frame. UNH whittled it down to 13 with 3:40 to play, but five straight points from Vermont pushed its lead to 70-52 just one minute later. The teams traded baskets before Abreu closed the scoring with a layup with 50 seconds left.
Conley chipped in with seven points and four assists, while DiLegro added 10 points and four rebounds. Benson recorded two points, nine boards and a block in 24 minutes.
Gibbs finished the day with 1,141 career points and moved past Dave Pemberton (1,136) for 13th place on UNH’s all-time scoring list.
Fjeld, Vermont's America East Player of the Game, led four Catamount scorers in double digits with 18 points. Trimboli tallied 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Blakely notched 14 points and seven boards and McIntosh added 10 points.
The Wildcats were outshot 47 percent (26-55) to 39 percent (19-49), but again won the battle on the boards, 35-34.
UNH travels to Stony Brook on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. before returning home Saturday, Jan. 31 to play host to these same Catamounts at noon.