DURHAM, N.H. – Sophomore Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) and senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) combined for 39 points, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team dropped a 61-53 decision to the University of Vermont on Thursday evening in America East action at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats fall to 7-11 on the season, including 1-5 in America East play, while the Catamounts improve to 13-5 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
Rhoads, UNH's America East Player of the Game, poured in a career-high 20 points on 5 of 13 shooting, including a career-best four 3-pointers on seven attempts, to extend his streak of games with 10-plus points to four, the longest of his career. Rhoads was also a perfect 6-for-6 at the line and added four rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes. Conley hit for 19 points and matched Rhoads' 5-for-13 performance from the field and 6-for-6 night at the stripe, while sinking 3 of 8 from behind the arc. Conley, who extended his career-best double-digit scoring streak to 12 games, also tallied five rebounds and an assist in 38 minutes.
The Wildcats shot 93.8 percent (15-16) from the line, their best mark with more than five attempts since Feb. 23, 2006 when they were also 15 of 16 at home against Albany.
Joey Accaoui led three Vermont scorers in double figures with 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting, including a perfect 2 of 2 from deep. Sandro Carissimo earned America East Player of the Game honors for the Catamounts with 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting and was also a perfect 2-for-2 from behind the arc. Evan Fjeld posted 10 points and nine boards.
After UNH went up 8-5 following Conley's first 3, Vermont roared back with a 10-0 run that put it ahead 15-8 with 11:49 to play in the opening half. Rhoads then sank back-to-back 3-pointers and Conley hit a pair at the line to put the Wildcats in the lead, 16-15 at the 9:47 mark. The game was tied at 23 when Carissimo sank two at the line with 2:15 remaining to close the scoring and send Vermont into the break with a 25-23 edge.
After a Brendan Bald trey just nine seconds into the second half, a steal and an uncontested layup by Carissimo quickly opened up a 30-23 lead for Vermont just 31 seconds in. Carissimo then knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing at the 18:49 mark to push the lead to 10. Conley answered with a 3 of his own, but Carissimo hit back with another to keep the gap at 10.
A bucket inside from junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) sliced it to eight, but with the lead still eight at 40-32 with 14:01 left, a layup from Matt Glass and back-to-back jumpers from Accaoui, including one that resulted in a three-point play, opened it up to 47-32 with 11:04 to go. A pair of Rhoads free throws cut it to 13, but a three-point play from Fjeld gave Vermont its largest lead of the game at 50-34 with 10:37 remaining.
Five straight points from freshman Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) sliced the UNH deficit to 11, but a 3 from Accaoui pushed it to 14. The lead was still 14 at 55-41 with 7:06 to play when a 6-0 Wildcat run, including five points from Conley cut it to eight with 4:33 left. A Fjeld jumper stopped the run, but Rhoads came back with another trifecta to make it 57-50 at 2:23. After a Carissimo jumper in the paint on the following possession, Rhoads knocked down another 3 to make it 59-53 with 1:27 on the clock. That was as close as the Wildcats would get, however, as Accaoui hit a pair at the line with 28 seconds left to close the scoring.
Vermont outshot UNH, 45 percent (22-49) to 30 percent (15-50), including 52 percent (13-25) to 32 percent (6-19) in the second half. The Catamounts also hit 5 of 11 (46 percent) from deep, while the Wildcats were 28 percent (8-29) from distance. Vermont held a 38-26 advantage on the glass, but UNH turned the ball over just 11 times, while forcing 14 turnovers.
Conley finished the night with 1,102 career points and moved past former teammate Mike Christensen (1,087) for 19th place on UNH's all-time scoring list.
The Wildcats return to action Sunday, Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. when they play host to UMBC at Lundholm Gymnasium.