DURHAM, N.H. – Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) notched his fourth career double-double by scoring a career-high 19 points and pulling down 12 rebounds to help the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team defeat the University at Albany, 69-64, in America East action at Lundholm Gymnasium on Thursday night.
The Wildcats, who avenged a 23-point loss to the Great Danes on Jan. 11, improved to 9-14 on the season and 4-8 in the league. Albany dipped to 15-12 overall and 7-6 in conference action.
Gerardo Suero was named the player of the game for Albany, finishing with 20 points, four boards, four assists and one steal.
Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) set season-highs in points (19), field goals made (7), assists (4), 3-point field goals made (2) and blocks (1). He shot 7-for-12 from the field, 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and 3-for-4 from the stripe.
UNH led by as many as nine points in the first half, but Albany closed the stanza on a 15-5 run to take a 27-25 lead at the intermission. Benson hit four of his five first-half field-goal attempts for a team-leading nine points at the break.
Both squads traded baskets in the first four minutes of the action until Abreu and Myrick dropped in layups to open up a 10-2 run, as the Wildcats finished off the stretch with six unanswered points to take a 17-8 edge with 10:55 on the clock.
Blake Metcalf drained a jumper in the paint to snap the dry spell, setting off an 11-3 run to trim the lead to one on a run that lasted 3:28. Four different Great Danes scored during the offensive spurt, holding UNH to one field goal to set the score at 20-19 with 7:27 remaining in the first stanza.
After Albany rattled off seven unanswered points, Benson would sink a trey to push the lead to four, but the Great Danes responded with an 8-2 run to close out the half holding a 27-25 advantage.
New Hampshire would pick up the pieces at the start of the second frame, scoring on back-to-back possessions to open up the action, as Benson dropped in a pair of layups to take the lead for the first time in six minutes.
The four unanswered points ignited an 18-6 scoring run, with five different Wildcats registering points during the stretch to give the home team a 43-33 edge with 13:29 remaining in regulation.
Suero sank a pair of shots from the charity stripe to open up a string of six unanswered by Albany, cutting the deficit to four on a stretch that lasted nearly three minutes. Suero and Sam Rowley capped off the stretch by sinking layups to set the score at 42-39 with 10:32 remaining.
Abreu and Myrick helped get UNH out of its offensive rut, tallying six and five points, respectively, on an 11-2 run that gave the home team its largest lead of the contest. Abreu closed out the stretch draining a trifecta to set the score at 54-41 with 7:56 remaining.
The Great Danes would not go away just yet, putting together a 12-2 scoring spurt with Jayson Guerrier and Mike Black sinking treys while Suero dropped in a pair of free throws to close out the stretch, trimming the deficit to just three points.
Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) halted a string of eight unanswered points by Albany when he drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to push the lead to six, 61-55, at 3:00. Despite UNH doubling its advantage, the Great Danes kept up their hot shooting, scoring on three straight trips up the floor to knot the action at 61-61 with 1:53 left to play.
Benson stopped the bleeding, sinking a layup to help the Wildcats hold onto the lead. On the next trip up the floor Myrick missed a jumper and followed his shot to grab the offensive board and finish the play with a layup from the left block for two and the hard. He finished the play sinking the free throw that followed, to push the advantage to five, 66-61, with 30 seconds on the clock.
New Hampshire would hold onto the lead the rest of the way, outscoring Albany 8-3 in the final 1:24 of regulation. Abreu and Rhoads combined to shot 3-for-4 from the line down the stretch to help preserve the victory.
The Wildcats take to the road to challenge the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com.