February 12, 2011

Men’s Basketball Hands UMBC 63-46 Setback

BALTIMORE, Md. – Senior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) scored a game-high 25 points and classmate Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) posted his sixth double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team earned a 63-46 victory against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in America East action at RAC Arena on Saturday evening.

The Wildcats win for the fourth time in six games to improve to 12-14 on the season, including 6-8 in America East play. The Retrievers fall to 5-21 overall and 4-9 in the conference. UNH sweeps the regular-season series from UMBC – by a margin of 18.5 ppg – for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign. The 46 points are the fewest the Wildcats have allowed in a game against a Division I opponent since they held UMBC to 45 at RAC Arena on Jan. 25, 2007.

Conley, UNH's America East Player of the Game, was 9-for-18 from the floor, 3-for-8 from behind the arc and 4-for-5 at the line to go along with three steals and an assist in 38 minutes. DiLiegro, who recorded his third double-double in the last four games, was 7 of 12 from the field and 7 of 9 at the charity stripe in 37 minutes. Sophomore Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) netted 10 points on 3 of 5 shooting overall and 4 of 7 at the line to go along with six assists, which matched a career best, three steals and two rebounds in 37 minutes.

Chase Plummer led UMBC with 13 points – all coming in the second half – and seven rebounds to earn America East Player of the Game honors.

The Wildcats started the game with a Conley 3-pointer, followed by baskets from junior Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) and Conley, to take a 7-0 lead out of the gate. With the lead still at seven, a pair of DiLiegro buckets sandwiched a hoop from senior James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) to push the lead to 18-5 midway through the opening half.

Five straight UMBC points sliced the UNH lead to eight, but the Wildcats responded with a 21-0 run over the final 9:34 of the half. A Rhoads jumper, a DiLiegro free throw and a pair of Conley freebies ran the lead to 13 before a steal and a dunk on three consecutive possessions – the first two started by Rhoads and finished by DiLiegro and Conley, with the third coming from Conley on his own – instantly widened the lead to 19 at 29-10 with 6:51 remaining.

Two more DiLiegro free throws, a Rhoads layup and a Conley trey made it 36-10 before free throws from Conley, Rhoads and freshman Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) closed the half with UNH holding a commanding 39-10 lead.

The 29-point halftime lead is the Wildcats' largest of the season, while the 39 points are a first-half season high, surpassing the 38 they put up in the opening half of their 80-60 win against the Retrievers on Jan. 23 at Lundholm Gymnasium. The 10 points are also a season low for a UNH opponent in any half this season and a program-record low for UMBC since they began playing in Division I.

UMBC turned the ball over 15 times in the half and notched just one assist. UNH scored 20 points off of the turnovers. Conley outscored UMBC, 18-10, on 6 of 11 shooting, including 2 of 4 from long distance, in the opening stanza.

UNH extended its run to 23-0 when DiLiegro opened the second half with a field goal that gave the Wildcats a 41-10 lead. The 31-point margin is UNH's largest against a Division I opponent this season. UMBC answered with an 8-0 run of its own to stop the bleeding and make it 41-23 with 17:35 to go. The Retrievers went 10:49 without a basket during UNH's run.

A Rhoads layup, followed by a DiLiegro free throw and one-handed slam pushed the lead to 28. Adrian Satchell and DiLiegro traded baskets before a DiLiegro free throw made it 49-20 with 14:43 left. DiLiegro knocked down a pair at the line after a 7-0 spurt from UMBC and wound up netting 10 of UNH's first 12 points of the second half.

Conley's final 3 of the night at the 11:09 mark made it 54-29 before the Retrievers followed with a 9-2 run that sliced the deficit to 18. UNH pushed the lead as high as 23 on a pair of Rhoads free throws with 3:47 on the clock. UMBC scored the final six points of the contest to close the scoring.

Benson finished with four points and eight boards.

The Wildcats outshot UMBC 44 percent (22-50) to 39.1 percent (18-46) for the game. They also scored 24 points on 21 UMBC turnovers, while turning the ball over just 11 times themselves. The Retrievers won the battle on the glass, 31-27.

Conley finished the night with 1,241 points and moved past Billy Pappas (1,228) for ninth place on UNH's all-time scoring list. DiLiegro moved into a second-place tie on the program's all-time rebounding list with 826.

The Wildcats return to action Saturday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. when they take on Marist College in a non-televised ESPNU BracketBusters matchup at the McCann Center. The next home game for the 'Cats is Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. when they play host to the University of Maine at Lundholm Gymnasium. The game will be aired live on Comcast SportsNet. For tickets, visit UNHWildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, x 5.

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