WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Senior center Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) registered eight points and 14 rebounds, but the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team dropped a 56-49 decision to the University of Hartford on Thursday evening at Chase Arena.
The loss drops UNH to 5-8 overall and 0-2 in America East play while Hartford improves to 1-13 and 1-1 in conference action.
Benson was tabbed the America East Player of the Game for New Hampshire, finishing the evening 3-for-6 from the floor, 2-for-5 from the line while also tallying a block in 35 minutes of action.
Andres Torres picked up player of the game honors for the Hawks, notching a game-high 27 points while collecting six rebounds and two steals. He shot 6-of-14 from the field and 14-of-17 from the free throw line.
Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) led the Wildcats with 12 points, two boards and one assist. Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) was the only other 'Cat to score in double-digits, registering 10 points, seven boards and three helpers.
Hartford opened the contest with six unanswered points, holding the Wildcats off the scoreboard for the first 5:16 of play. Myrick broke the scoreless spell with a trey; setting off a 10-0 run that gave the Wildcats their first lead, 10-6, at 10:20.
The Hawks threatened to take back the lead when Wes Cole and Torres both drained jumpers about a minute apart, knotting the score at 10-10 with 8:27 on the clock. Myrick once again answered the call, halting the brief scoring spurt with a layup, as the 'Cats were able to fend off the Hawks the rest of the frame to head into the break with a 20-18 edge.
UNH picked up the offensive pace about five minutes into the second half when Myrick and Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) both knocked down a pair of free throws to push the score to 30-24 with 12:36 remaining in regulation.
Nate Sikma interrupted the run when he dropped in a layup, but after a quick change of possession, Scott Morris (Walkersville, Md.) was there to answer back with a 15-footer from the baseline to push the lead back up to six. On the next trip up the floor Torres tracked down his own miss on a layup and drilled a 3-pointer from the baseline to trim the score to 32-29 at 10:38.
Abreu responded with a trey of his own on the next possession, as UNH posted an 8-1 scoring run, giving the Wildcats their largest lead of the contest, 40-32, with 8:50 remaining.
Hartford came back with eight unanswered, as Mark Nwakamma fueled the spurt with a pair of jumpers, helping the home team knot the score at 40-40 at 5:35. After Torres put the Hawks ahead on a pair of free throws, the Wildcats were able to take back the lead when Abreu sank a 3-pointer and Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) dropped in a layup, 47-44, at 2:05.
That would be the last time UNH held the advantage the rest of the way, as Hartford finished out the game on a 12-2 run, with Torres fueling the stretch with seven points.
The Wildcats continue their two-game road stretch when they face off against the University at Albany on Wednesday, Jan. 11 (7 p.m.) at SEFCU Arena.