RICHMOND, Va. – Sophomore point guard Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) led four scorers in double-digits with a season-high 15 points as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team dropped a 78-65 decision to Virginia Commonwealth University in the championship game of the Richmond Marriott Holidays on the Hardwood Classic on Thursday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
The Wildcats fall to 6-6 on the season, which marks the first time the team has recorded six victories before New Year's Day since the 1994-95 season. The Rams improve to 9-4.
Rhoads, the America East Player of the Game, was 3-for-6 from the field, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc, and also went 7 of 9 at the line to go along with five rebounds and two assists. Sophomore Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) added 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting to go along with three rebounds. Freshman DeAndray Buckley (Romulus, Mich.) also netted 11 points on 3 of 4 shooting and tallied three rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist in 19 minutes. Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.), who was named to the All-Tournament Team after the game, chipped in with 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and a block and is now just nine points shy of becoming the 28th member of the program to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
VCU was led by Bradford Burgess, who poured in 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds. Brandon Rozzell added 23 points behind a 6-for-12 shooting performance from deep.
The Rams jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind five points from Burgess. The teams then battled back and forth with a pair of layups by senior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) cutting the deficit to four (22-18) with 7:42 remaining in the opening half. The gap was five (25-20) with 5:35 to play when a 14-4 run by VCU made it 39-24 with 1:36 on the clock. With the margin still at 15, Burgess added a layup with 3.7 seconds to go to give VCU a 43-26 lead at the break.
After the teams traded baskets to start the second half, VCU went on a 10-3 run to go up 55-31 with 13:16 remaining. The teams then traded 3-pointers before a 7-0 UNH run, which was capped by a trey from junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.), sliced the deficit to 17 at 58-41 with 10:32 to play.
VCU responded with a 13-4 run that pushed its lead to 71-45 – the largest of the game – with just under six minutes to play. Five straight points from Rhoads cut it to 21 with 4:48 remaining before Rozzell answered with a 3. UNH then reeled off nine straight points, including five from Buckley, before freshman Scott Morris (Walkersville, Md.) closed the run with a 3 from the right wing to make it 74-59 with 2:18 left. With the deficit still at 15 (78-63) and just 23 seconds on the clock, Morris jumped into the passing lane to steal the ball and ran the length of the court before capping the scoring with a two-handed dunk.
DiLiegro recorded six points and eight rebounds, while Benson posted seven points and a career-high 11 boards.
VCU narrowly outshot UNH, 42 percent (26-62) to 40 percent (20-50), including 38 percent (11-29) to 25 percent (5-20) from behind the arc. The Wildcats held a 42-40 advantage on the glass.
The Wildcats return to action Sunday, Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. when they open America East play against the University at Albany at SEFCU Arena.a