RICHMOND, Va. – Sophomore Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) led four scorers in double-digits with 14 points as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team earned a 68-66 win against Cornell University in the opening game of the Richmond Marriott Holidays on the Hardwood Classic on Wednesday evening at Virginia Commonwealth University's Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
The Wildcats snap a three-game losing skid to improve to 6-5 on the season and are now 3-1 all-time against Cornell. The Big Red are now 2-9 and have lost eight straight.
Myrick was 5 of 11 from the floor to go along with four rebounds and a career-high five assists. Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.), the America East Player of the Game, scored 13 points on 5 of 12 shooting and tallied four rebounds, two blocks, two steals and an assist, while playing all 40 minutes. Junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) chipped in with a season-high 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting and also pulled in four rebounds in 19 minutes. Sophomore point guard Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) netted 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 2 of 2 from behind the arc, while matching his career high with eight rebounds to go along with five assists and just one turnover in 28 minutes.
Errick Peck led Cornell with 19 points in just 19 minutes.
With the game tied at 63 with 31 seconds to play, Myrick drove to the hoop and converted an up and under while drawing the foul. Myrick completed the three-point play at the line to give his team the 66-63 lead. After the 'Cats made a stop on the defensive end, Rhoads threw the ball ahead to Benson, who finished with a two-handed fast-break dunk to open UNH's lead to five with 6.4 seconds on the clock.
Chris Wroblewski then knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing to slice it to two, but that is as close as Cornell would get as the Wildcats improved to a perfect 5-0 in games decided by less than six points.
UNH opened the game on a 12-2 run that was ignited by a Rhoads trey just 24 seconds in, and then capped with a one-handed slam by senior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) at the 13:32 mark. After a Drew Ferry 3-pointer, back-to-back baskets by Myrick made it 16-5 with 11:23 remaining in the opening half.
A modest 4-0 run from the Big Red sliced the deficit to seven, but a layup from DiLiegro and a 3-pointer from Conley gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game at 21-9 with 9:46 left.
After the teams traded baskets, Cornell ripped off a 12-2 run of its own to cut the UNH lead to just a pair with 5:15 to go. After the Wildcats nudged the gap to three, a layup by Aaron Osgood and a jumper by Wroblewski gave the Big Red their first lead of the contest at 27-26 with 2:27 to go. The 'Cats then scored the final seven points of the half, including a 3-pointer from freshman Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) that he banked in from 30 feet as time expired. UNH improves to 5-1 when leading at halftime.
Cornell had shaved its deficit to 35-31 just 1:04 into the second half when Benson sunk a 3-pointer from the right elbow at the 17:31 mark. The lead was still seven (40-33) when a Myrick jumper pushed it to nine at 16:12. The Big Red answered with an 8-0 run, which featured six points from Osgood, to close the gap to one at 42-41 with 13:45 remaining.
With the lead still one at 48-47, a Conley layup gave UNH some breathing room with 8:46 left. Five straight points from Peck, however, put Cornell in the lead, 52-50, with 7:04 to go. The Big Red still led by a pair, 58-56, when baskets by freshman Kazadi Nyanguila (Montreal, Quebec) and Rhoads put the Wildcats back in the lead at 60-56 with 4:10 to play. The 'Cats were still up two at 63-61 when Peck drained a jumper to knot the game with 1:16 to play. Peck, who played just six first-half minutes due to foul trouble, scored 15 of Cornell's final 19 points, including 10 straight at one point.
DiLiegro finished with nine points, five rebounds, a block and a steal in 22 minutes, while Nyanguila netted a career-high seven points to go along with four rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Wildcats shot a season-best 51 percent (24-47) from the floor, including 33 percent (6-18) from deep. Cornell was 40 percent (22-55) from the field and 26 percent (6-23) from behind the arc. The 'Cats held a slight 34-33 edge on the glass.
Conley finished the night with 981 career points and is now 19 away from becoming the 28th member of the program to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
The Wildcats return to action Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game against VCU.