BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) led three scorers in double-digits with 19 points, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team dropped a 76-72 decision to Long Island University on Saturday afternoon at the Wellness Center.
The Wildcats fall to 3-5 on the season, while the Blackbirds up their record to 3-5.
Abreu, the America East Player of the Game, added five rebounds and five assists. Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.), who became the 26th 1,000-point scorer in program history, finished with 15 points and four rebounds, while junior guard Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) poured in 14 points – one shy of his career high – to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.
Trailing 57-50 with 4:41 to go in the game, UNH received a huge 3-pointer from Abreu, who scored 17 of his points in the second half, to cut its deficit to four. The trey sparked a run that saw Abreu score nine straight points for the Wildcats over a span of 2:31. Abreu then hit a layup with 3:36 left make the score 57-55, but UNH wound up trading both buckets out after a Julian Boyd layup and Kyle Johnson 3-pointer pushed the LIU lead back to seven (62-55) with 3:00 to play.
Abreu then hit a pair of jumpers, sandwiched around a Boyd free throw, to cut the Blackbird lead to 63-59 with 2:10 on the clock. Just under 30 seconds later Boyd converted a three-point play the old fashioned way to push the Long Island lead back to seven at 66-59. Sophomore guard Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) came back with a 3-pointer with just under a minute left to cut the deficit back to four. Johnson then hit a pair of free throws that gave the Blackbirds a 68-62 lead with 49 seconds remaining and started a streak of 10 straight makes from the line for LIU.
Eight seconds later, Abreu found sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) underneath for a layup that brought UNH to within four. Two more LIU free throws pushed the lead back to six before Abreu nailed his third and final 3 of the game to make it 70-67 with 36 ticks on the clock. Another pair of Blackbird free throws bumped their lead up to five, but again the Wildcats struck back with a trifecta, this time it was Gibbs who sliced the lead to 72-70 with 28 seconds left and broke the 1,000-point plateau with the trey. Gibbs finished the game with 1,002 points and is 25th on UNH’s all-time scoring list.
The two teams then traded scores, with two LIU free throws being offset by a Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) slam off a nice feed from Conley. Another set of Long Island free throws brought the score to 76-72 with 18 seconds left. Boyd came up with a big block, but then missed two free throws at the other end to give UNH a fighting chance. A missed 3 and then a missed layup off the offensive rebound, however, sealed the game for the Blackbirds.
Conley chipped in with seven points, four rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal, while DiLiegro posted six points and seven rebounds.
The two teams battled back and forth to open the game, with UNH grabbing a 16-15 lead midway through the first half. A 10-0 LIU run, however, gave the Blackbirds a 25-16 lead with 5:36 to play in the opening frame. The Wildcats came right back with a 7-0 run, capped by an Abby Kabba (Oklahoma City, Okla.) dunk, to get them within two (25-23) with 2:51 to go. LIU knocked down a 3-pointer before the two teams traded scores twice to close the scoring and go to the break with the Blackbirds on top 34-29.
UNH opened the second stanza with an Onguetou 3 that brought them to within two, before Abreu tied the game at 34 with a layup 1:04 in. A 10-1 Long Island run made it 44-35 with 15:05 left in the game. Gibbs’ layup with 14:43 sparked a 10-2 Wildcat run that cut their deficit to one (46-45) with 11:31 remaining. Johnson knocked down a 3 to push the LIU lead to four before DiLiegro erased it with a layup and a free throw after he was fouled. Johnson hit two straight buckets before the teams traded baskets to make it 55-50 with 5:32 left. LIU added a pair of free throws to bring the score to 57-50 before Abreu led UNH’s comeback.
Johnson led way for LIU with 25 points. Boyd and Jaytornah Wisseh also scored in double-digits with 10 points a piece.
The Wildcats shot 48 percent (28-59) from the field, their best mark since they shot 55 percent (38-69) in the season-opener versus Suffolk. Long Island shot 44 percent (26-59) from the floor. The battle on the boards was nearly even, with LIU holding a 37-36 edge.
The Wildcats have a 10-day break before wrapping up their three-game road trip against Fordham on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.