DURHAM, N.H. – Sophomore forward Patrick Konan (Gainesville, Fla.) scored a career-high 20 points to pace five players in double figures, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team was edged, 82-76, by UMBC in the America East conference opener for both teams at Lundholm Gymnasium on Monday night.
Konan was tabbed the America East Player of the Game for New Hampshire, finishing the contest with five boards, one assist and one block. He shot 7 of 11 from the field, 2 of 4 from behind the arc and 4 of 4 from the charity stripe.
Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) registered 15 points, four boards and three assists in 40 minutes. Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) added 12 points, seven rebounds, three steals and one assist. Abreu's offensive output helped move him past Blagoj Janev (1,340) to rank fourth all-time in program history in points scored with 1,349 in his career.
Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) rounded out UNH's double-digit scorers, as the duo chipped in with 10 points apiece. Bronner also added five assists.
Chase Plummer claimed America East Player of the Game honors for UMBC, netting a game-high 23 points while adding seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block.
Konan canned back-to-back 3-pointers to stake the Wildcats to an early 6-0 lead. That set the tone for a half in which eight different 'Cats scored, and the team shot 56 percent (14-for-25) to grab a 39-32 halftime lead.
Despite the advantage at the break, the Retrievers came out in full throttle at the start of the second half, posting a 21-6 run that lasted 7:35. UMBC held UNH to just one field goal for the last 4:22 of the run, outscoring the 'Cats 15-2 during the stretch to take its first lead of the contest, 53-45, at 12:25.
Konan interrupted the spurt with a pair of free throws and then dished off a pass to Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) for a dunk about a minute later to cut the deficit to four, 53-49, with 11 minutes remaining in regulation.
Hopes of taking back the lead were quickly erased when Plummer drained a jumper in the paint on the next trip up the floor, sparking a 10-4 scoring run that gave the Retrievers their largest lead of the contest, setting the score at 63-53 with 8:07 on the clock.
UNH was able to respond by pounding the ball into the paint, posting a 9-3 scoring spurt that trimmed the deficit to four, scoring all of its points around the basket. Myrick took control during the stretch, scoring on a pair of layups, including one that turned into a three-point play after he took the ball hard to the rack from the right side and scored with contact.
After trading baskets with one another for the next three minutes, New Hampshire came back with another run, outscoring the visitors 8-1 on a stretch that lasted 1:35 to claim its first lead in nearly 14 minutes, 74-73, with 46 seconds remaining. The 'Cats scored all eight points on the run from the free throw, as Bronner paved the way, shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the stripe. He finished the night 8 of 8 from the line.
Following a pair of Bronner free throws, Brain Neller halted a string of six unanswered points by the Wildcats with a dagger 3-pointer from the top of the key to take back the lead, 76-74, with 32 seconds on the clock. UMBC outscored 6-2 UNH the rest of the way to preserve the victory in the closing moments of the contest, knocking down 6 of 6 shots from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats are back in action when they battle the University of Hartford on Thursday, Jan. 5 (7 p.m.) at Chase Arena.