DURHAM, N.H. – Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, including the go-ahead 3-pointer that lifted the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team to Wednesday night's 52-51 America East conference victory against the University of Hartford at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats, who trailed by as many as eight points in the second half, snapped a two-game skid to improve to 8-13 on the season, 3-7 in the league. The Hawks dipped to 4-18, 4-6 in America East play.
Mark Nwakamma was tabbed the player of the game for Hartford, notching 18 points, six boards and two steals. Wes Cole also finished in double-figures for the Hawks, notching 12 points and two boards in the loss.
Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) was the only other 'Cat that scored in double-digits, posting 14 points to go along with four assists and two rebounds.
The Hawks kicked off the second frame in convincing fashion, posting a 12-2 run, as they scored 10 unanswered points to close out a scoring spurt that lasted 4:17. Nwakamma dropped in a dunk and drained a pair of free throws to close out the stretch, giving Hartford its largest lead of the contest, 33-25, at 15:43.
Rhoads and Abreu ended the scoreless spell netting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, cutting the deficit to just two points. Patrick Konan (Gainesville, Fla.) added a layup about a minute later, capping off a string of eight unanswered by the Wildcats to knot the score for the seventh time at 33-33 with 12:22 remaining in regulation.
Nwakamma interrupted the scoring spurt with a layup, but UNH kept up the pace, as Abreu and Rhoads closed out the stretch each netting 3-pointers, taking back the lead for the first time in seven minutes, 39-35, with 11:01 on the clock.
Hartford threatened to take back the lead five minutes later when Nwakamma and Cole sank layups to knot the score at 44-44 with 4:09 remaining. Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) helped stop the bleeding by dropping in a layup of his own, but Nwakamma registered another field goal and Yolonzo Moore hit a trey to give the visitors their first lead in 10:12, 49-46, with 1:47 remaining.
After a change of possession, Abreu sent a pass from the top of the key to the left wing and Konan sank a 3-pointer to even the score at 49-49 with 1:22 on the clock. Myrick was able to come up with a steal on the other end of the floor and Abreu knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 52-49 edge with 28 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
New Hampshire opened up the contest taking a 6-2 lead, as Abreu dropped in a layup sandwiched between a pair of field goals by Rhoads in the first five minutes of the action. Hartford responded when Nwakamma buried a pair of layups on back-to-back possessions to even the score at 6-6 with 13:51 remaining in the first frame.
Both squads battled back-and-forth for the remainder of the half, knotting the score four times while also exchanging the lead four times. Neither team held an advantage larger than four points in the last 11 minutes of the stanza. New Hampshire was able to head into the locker with the advantage, as Garrett Jones (Chicago, Ill.) buried a trifecta and Abreu sank a high arched jumper in the paint to give UNH the 23-21 edge at the break.
UNH returns to action Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. against America East-leading Stony Brook at Lundholm Gymnasium. For more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com.