MEN'S HOOP TOPPLES REGULAR-SEASON CHAMPIONS, STONY BROOK, 77-55
DURHAM, N.H. - Freshman Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) scored a career- and game-high 21 points to lead the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team to a 77-55 victory against regular-season champion Stony Brook University in the regular-season finale on Sunday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium on Senior Day.
The Wildcats improve to 12-16 and close out conference play at 6-10. They also finish out their home slate at 9-4, the best mark since the 1994-95 season when they were 8-2. The ‘Cats also better their record against Stony Brook to 13-6 all-time as they have won 10 of the last 12 meetings. Head coach Bill Herrion, who recorded the 294th victory of his career, ran his record to 9-2 against SBU. The Seawolves, who saw their 10-game winning streak snapped, fall to 21-8 overall and 13-3 in the conference. The streak was the sixth longest active streak in Division I heading into the day.
With the win, UNH is waiting on the outcome of the Hartford/Albany game at 4 p.m. to see who they will play March 6 in the quarterfinal round of the America East Championship tournament at Hartford's Chase Arena. A Hartford loss will net the Wildcats the sixth seed and a 6:05 p.m. tip against No. 2 the University of Vermont, while a Hartford win gives UNH the seventh seed and an 8:35 p.m. matchup against No. 3 the University of Maine. Stony Brook, meanwhile, had already wrapped up its first ever No. 1 seed and will await the winner of Thursday's UMBC/Albany first-round game.
Myrick led four Wildcats in double figures as he was 7-for-11 from the floor, including 1-for-2 from behind the arc. He also made all six of his free throws and added three rebounds and a block in 18 minutes. Junior Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.), UNH's America East Player of the Game, tallied 15 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Senior Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) added 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting from deep in his last regular-season tilt at Lundholm and junior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) posted 11 points, seven boards and a block.
Muhammad El-Amin, who was named Stony Brook's America East Player of the Game, scored 13 points after averaging 24.6 over his last five. Bryan Dougher also scored 13 for the Seawolves.
Stony Brook led 10-6 to start the game when Myrick buried a 3 from the left wing to slice the deficit to one. Junior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) knocked down a jumper to give UNH the lead for good and then Myrick added a basket that capped the 7-0 run and gave the Wildcats a 13-10 lead with 10:57 to play in the opening half.
The Seawolves had closed the gap to 15-13 with 8:40 to play when a DiLiegro basket sparked a 10-0 run that made it 25-13 at 4:23. The Wildcats led 32-21 and held the ball for the final shot of the half when they found Abreu, who sank a 3 from the left wing as time expired to send UNH into the locker room up 35-21. The ‘Cats improved to 12-2 when tied or leading at the half this season.
A Conley layup and Santos 3-pointer started UNH on a 5-0 run that made it 40-21 at 18:52. Stony Brook came back with a 5-0 run of its own that made it 40-26 at 16:44, but the Wildcats ran off a 12-1 run to take their largest lead of the game at 52-27 with 13:31 to play. Santos kicked off the stretch with a 3 and after a Dallis Joyner free throw, Santos, Abreu and Conley followed with treys to close the run.
A three-point play from Brenton and a jumper from Dougher closed the gap to 52-32 at 12:56 before a DiLiegro free throw and Myrick layup pushed the lead back to 23. The lead was still 23, 59-36, with 10:09 to play when a 6-1 Stony Brook run sliced the deficit to 60-42 at 8:42.
Later, an Abreu jumper and a pair of Myrick free throws made it 66-44 with 7:06 remaining. Myrick kept the lead at 23, 75-52, with a layup at 2:03, but a Preye Preboye trey at 1:47 cut it to 75-55. Myrick then closed the scoring with a pair of free throws with 1:02 to go.
Conley recorded eight points and three assists, while sophomore point guard Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) tallied five points, six assists and no turnovers in 25 minutes off the bench.
Abreu finished the afternoon with 1,122 points and passed Peter Laskaris (1,115) for 16th on UNH's all-time scoring list. DiLiegro, meanwhile, ended the day with 622 boards and passed Chris Brown (613) for seventh on UNH's all-time rebounding list.
The Wildcats outshot Stony Brook, 50 percent (29-58) to 42.6 percent (20-47), including 45 percent (9-20) to 20 percent (2-10) from behind the arc. The ‘Cats turned the ball over just six times, while forcing 16 Stony Brook turnovers to hold a 22-5 advantage in points off turnovers. UNH also outscored the Seawolves in the paint, 26-21, and held a 26-13 edge in bench scoring.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday, March 7 against either Vermont (6:05 p.m.) or Maine (8:35 p.m.) in the quarterfinal round of the America East tournament at Hartford's Chase Arena.