VESTAL, N.Y. – Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) poured in a game-high 23 points and senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) added 20, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team suffered a 70-69 heartbreaking loss in overtime to Binghamton University on Sunday afternoon in front of 5,222 fans – the largest regular-season crowd in the history of the Events Center.
The loss thwarted a possible three-game winning streak for the Wildcats and sends them to 11-15 on the season, including 6-8 in the America East. The Bearcats, who move atop the standings with the win, improve to 19-8 overall and 12-3 in the conference.
Abreu, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, added four rebounds and three assists in 41 minutes, while Gibbs tallied five boards, a pair of assists and a steal in 45 minutes.
With UNH up six with 1:38 remaining in regulation, D.J. Rivera and Tiki Mayben hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 64 with 25 seconds left. After a Wildcat miss, Reggie Fuller pulled down a rebound with two seconds left, but turned the ball over and gave the Wildcats one last chance to win it in regulation. A heave from just inside half court by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) looked good, but caromed off the backboard and just missed the rim on the way down.
The Wildcats opened the overtime session with Abreu’s third trey of the game, which put UNH up three just 19 seconds in. Five Binghamton free throws over the next 3:24 – including one by Malik Alvin with 1:51 remaining that gave the Bearcats their first lead since 16:13 of the second half – put BU on top 70-67 with 1:16 on the clock.
After a huge block on a Rivera jumper by freshman forward Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.), senior guard Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) drew the foul and sank two at the line to cut the UNH deficit to one with 26 seconds left. The Wildcats fouled and after Brandon Herbert missed both at the stripe, UNH had one last shot to win it. The Wildcats missed a jumper, but could not hold onto the offensive rebound as the ball caromed out of bounds and over to the Bearcats with sixth-tenths of a second left. Mayben’s inbound was broken up by Abreu, but no time remained to get a shot off and the Bearcats escaped with the one-point victory. DiLiegro pulled down seven rebounds, while Benson recorded six points, five boards and three blocks in 22 minutes.
Trailing 33-32 coming out of the half, Gibbs nailed a 3-pointer to put UNH up by two just 12 seconds in. After Rivera tied the game with a jumper, Abreu sank a jumper of his own to re-gain the lead, but Rivera answered with another shot that tied the game at 37. After a steal by sophomore guard Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.), Abreu hit Conley in stride on the fast break for a dunk that put the Wildcats up 39-37 with 18:04 remaining. Fuller answered with a dunk at the other end that tied the game once more.
After a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) once again gave the Wildcats a two-point lead, Rivera responded with a 3-pointer that gave the Bearcats a 42-41 advantage at 16:54. Abreu answered with another trey and the shootout continued as Mayben buried a 3-pointer of his own before Abreu sank another from behind the arc to give UNH a 47-45 lead at 15:50. Fuller ended the seesaw battle with a layup at 15:06, which tied the game for the fourth time in the half.
From there, the Wildcats went on a 12-3 run that was sparked by a 3-pointer from Conley, and capped with another from Gibbs, which made it 59-50 with 10:29 remaining. Four straight points from Fuller sliced the deficit to four at 8:25 before Conley and Herbert traded baskets to make it 61-56 with 5:08 to go. Gibbs then converted a monster three-point play to make the lead eight at 4:43. That would be the last time UNH would score, however, as a steal and a dunk by Rivera sparked an 8-0 Binghamton run that tied the game. Conley tallied 12 points, four rebounds, an assist and two steals, while Tchatchoua chipped in with four points, seven boards and an assist.
After Binghamton scored the first five points of the game, consecutive 3-pointers by Gibbs and Conley gave UNH a 6-5 lead at 15:50. An 11-2 run by Binghamton, however, put the Bearcats up 17-8 at 12:51. After a tip in by Benson, Binghamton took its largest lead of the game at 20-10 after Rivera converted an old fashioned three-point play. Abreu and Rivera then traded baskets before a Gibbs 3 sparked a 9-0 run that brought UNH to within 22-21 at 8:44.
Binghamton led 29-25 with 2:55 to go when Gibbs sank a 3-pointer to cut it to one. Conley followed with a layup at 2:06 that gave UNH a 30-29 lead. Binghamton went ahead by two on a Moussa Camara 3-pointer at 1:42 before a pair of free throws by Benson tied the game at 32 with 1:13 remaining. Mayben then hit one of three from the line with 25 seconds to go to send the teams into the locker room.
Gibbs, playing in his school record-tying 113th game, finished with 1,252 career points and moved past Matt Alosa (2,247) for seventh place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. With five treys on the day, Gibbs moved into fourth place on the program’s single-season 3-pointers made list with 71.
The Wildcats outshot Binghamton, 38 percent (21-55) to 37 percent (23-62) from the floor and also hit a season-high 81 percent (17-21) from the line. UNH also won the battle on glass as they outrebounded the Bearcats, 44-35, with junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) hauling in a team-high eight.
Fuller, Binghamton’s America East Player of the Game, led the Bearcats with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Rivera added 21 points and five rebounds, and matched an America East record for most steals in a game this season with six. Rivera set the record Jan. 8 against Vermont before Abreu tied it Feb. 19 against Maine. Mayben added 15 points and four assists.
The Wildcats return to action Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. when they go for a season sweep of the University at Albany in a game that will be broadcast live from Lundholm Gymnasium on Comcast SportsNet.