DURHAM, N.H. – Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) scored 16 points and knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 33 seconds left to lift the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team to a 55-52 victory against the College of the Holy Cross on Saturday evening at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats improve to 3-0 for the first time since the 1971-72 season, while the Crusaders drop to 0-3. The 'Cats also win at home for the 14th time in the last 18 games.
The win is head coach Bill Herrion's 61st while at the helm for UNH and moves him into fourth place on the program's all-time wins list. Herrion passed Bill Olsen, who won 60 games in six seasons from 1960-66, and now trails only Gerry Friel (188), William Cowell (119), and Henry Swasey (108) in the record books.
Conley, the America East Player of the Game, sunk four 3s and filled the box score in 36 minutes with four rebounds, two assists, three steals and a pair of blocks. Sophomore Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) added 14 points and six rebounds, while senior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) narrowly missed his second straight double-double with 11 points and nine boards. DiLiegro was 5 of 11 from the field and tallied two assists and two steals.
Devin Brown led the Crusaders with 16 points.
With Holy Cross leading 52-51 with 40 seconds on the clock, Conley missed a 3 from the left wing, but DiLiegro tracked down the rebound and dove on the ball before calling timeout to give the 'Cats a second chance. They made good on the new opportunity as Conley buried a 3-pointer from the right elbow with 33 seconds to go to put his team up 54-52.
After Brown missed a driving layup with 18 seconds to play and Mike Cavataio missed the follow up shot, Myrick grabbed the rebound and passed the ball off to freshman point guard Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.), who was fouled. Bronner made one of two at the line and then pressured the ball up the court and forced Andrew Beinert to miss a fall-away 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired.
Bronner played well in 20 minutes, recording three points and four assists, in addition to playing tremendous on-the-ball defense.
After Myrick sank a 3 from the left wing to put UNH on top 37-27 just 1:06 into the second half, Holy Cross went on a 10-0 run to knot the game with 13:56 remaining. Conley stopped the bleeding when he stole a pass and streaked down the right side of the court before throwing down a one-handed dunk at 12:31. Brown answered with a 3-pointer that put Holy Cross up by one before Myrick's jumper gave the Wildcats a 41-40 advantage with 9:34 to play.
Jumpers by Cavataio and Dave Dudzinski gave the Crusaders a three-point lead, which they held onto at 48-45 with 4:41 on the clock. Myrick then drained a pair at the line and grabbed a one-handed offensive rebound and put it back to give the Wildcats a one-point edge. DiLiegro's jump hook in the lane with 3:11 remaining made it 51-48. Four straight points from Brown, however, put Holy Cross up by one with 52 seconds left, setting up the heroics of Conley and DiLiegro.
Holy Cross led 8-4 when a pair of Conley treys sandwiched an R.J. Evans basket to tie the game at 10 with 12:17 remaining in the opening half. The Crusaders led by one, 18-17, with 5:45 to play when the Wildcats crafted an 8-0 run with consecutive 3s from senior James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) and sophomore Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.), and a layup by DiLiegro that made it 25-18 with 3:57 left. Conley buried a 3 with 46 seconds left that made it 33-25 before a pair of Brown free throws closed the opening-half scoring with UNH leading 33-27.
Rhoads recorded seven points, three rebounds and two assists.
UNH shot 34 percent (20-59) from the field, including 32 percent (8-25) from beyond the arc, while it held Holy Cross to 37 percent (17-47) from the floor and 14 percent (1-7) from deep. The 'Cats also held a 38-34 advantage on the glass.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. when they travel to take on Sacred Heart University. The 'Cats return home to play host to Brown University on Saturday, Nov. 27 (1 p.m.) at Lundholm Gymnasium.