ORONO, Maine – Seniors Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.), Chris Matagrano (Sayreville, N.J.) and Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) all registered double digits to lead the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team past rival Maine, 57-54, Wednesday evening at Alfond Arena.
New Hampshire (6-14, 2-6) captured its second straight victory and won at Maine for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Maine falls to 8-13 overall and 3-5 in America East play.
UNH head coach Bill Herrion, in his eighth season, earned his 152nd America East victory and is now tied with former Boston University head coach Dennis Wolff for the most all-time in league history.
Matagrano, the America East Player of the Game, posted 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field to go with seven rebounds and two assists. Rhoads netted a team-high 18 points to pair with seven boards, while Myrick added 13 points and six boards.
Alasdair Fraser scored 20 points for Maine, while the Black Bears outrebounded the Wildcats, 46-39. UNH shot 33.3 percent (20-60) from the floor and 40 percent (6-15) from long range, including 5-of-8 in the first half.
The teams went back-and-forth to open the contest before Myrick broke a 4-4 tie with a floater in the paint. Maine responded with three unanswered from Justin Edwards, but Patrick Konan (Gainesville, Fla.) hit a 3-pointer to lift the visitors on top, 9-7, at 14:03.
After Maine evened the score with a pair of free throws, the Wildcats scored 11 unanswered points over a 5:30 span. UNH hit six free throws during the stretch, while Myrick added a 3-pointer to push the Wildcats in front, 20-9, with 8:13 left in the opening half.
The Black Bears stopped the run with three quick points, but Rhoads answered right back with a trey to spark a 5-0 burst for the 25-12 advantage.
From there, Maine used a 6-3 run to trim the deficit to 10, but Matagrano took over on the offensive end as he scored UNH's final seven points of the stanza, including a 3-pointer at the top of the key for the 35-22 lead at intermission. Matagrano led all scorers with 11 points at the break, while Rhoads also had double figures with 10 points. UNH was 5-of-8 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
New Hampshire kicked off the second half with back-to-back baskets inside by Matagrano and Myrick, but Maine rattled off a 13-0 run over the next 3:20 to pull within 39-35. The Black Bears hit three 3-pointers during the stretch.
The Wildcats broke up the stretch with a Matagrano free throw and a Rhoads jumper, but the home side scored six straight points to pull within one, 42-41. Myrick scored a 3-point play just over a minute later as he drove hard to the basket and drew the foul, pushing UNH back up by four with 8:33 remaining.
New Hampshire maintained a five-point lead with four minutes left to play, thanks to a 3-pointer from Scott Morris (Walkersville, Md.) and a layup by Rhoads, until Zarko Valjarevic hit a trifecta to ignite a 5-0 stretch and even the score at 52-52 with 2:15 remaining.
After Myrick pushed the 'Cats ahead with a free throw, Rhoads knocked down a long jumper for the 55-52 advantage at the 1:08 mark. Xavier Pollard scored a layup on the other end to trim the lead to one, before the Black Bears sent Konan to the line with nine seconds left to play. Konan missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Matagrano was there for the offensive rebound. He then hit both free throws after being fouled for the three-point lead and Maine's final 3-pointer fell short to seal the UNH victory.
The Wildcats return to action on Saturday, Feb. 2 when they host Stony Brook at 4 p.m. For tickets, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5. Additionally, fans will gain complimentary admission to the game if they show their men's hockey ticket for Saturday's game against Merrimack at 7 p.m. at the door of Lundholm Gymnasium.