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March 03. 2012 9:27PM

Men's Basketball: UNH falls hard in quarterfinal

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team had a nice February and used that 6-2 month to rise to the No. 5 seed in the America East tournament and establish some high expectations.

March did not go nearly as well.

No. 4 seed Albany pounded the boards and jumped on top of the Wildcats in the first half and rolled to 63-45 win in a quarterfinal game on Saturday at Chase Family Arena at the University of Hartford.

“We didn't take care of business,” said UNH senior guard Alvin Abreu, who played his last game as a Wildcat. “Right now everyone's going after the same thing and they wanted it more and they took it from us. We just didn't play well.”

Albany improved its record to 19-13 and moved on to a semifinal matchup today at 5 p.m. against No. 1 seed Stony Brook.

UNH finishes with a 13-16 record.

“We got outplayed and it really kind of started right from the beginning of the game,” said UNH coach Bill Herrion. “They were much more physical than us. We got beat badly on second chance points and around the basket.”

Albany outscored UNH 17-0 in second chance points and had a 49-37 edge in rebounds.

“They got a few on us early and it kind of snowballed from there,” said senior center Brian Benson.

Benson did his share of boardwork with 13 rebounds.

Sophomore forward Patrick Konan had 12 points and six rebounds and junior forward Ferg Myrick had 11 points and three rebounds.

Albany junior Gerardo Suero took 24 of his team's 58 shots and led all scorers with 24 points.

The Great Danes used a 10-0 run late in the first half to break the game open a bit and another in the second in response to a UNH threat.

The first run took it from a tie game to a 26-16 Albany advantage.

The Great Danes were already attacking the boards — the edge was 29-14 in the first 20 minutes — and riding Suero's big first half. He had exactly half of Albany's 30 points and also had half a dozen rebounds.

The Wildcats did not shoot well in the half, either, making seven of their 26 shots for 26.9 percent, and trailed 30-21 when it ended.

UNH fought back and an Abreu drive, sliced the gap to 38-33 with 12:30 to go.

Suero answered with a three-pointer from the top of the key.

“We made a defensive mistake on a high ball screen and they hit the three,” Herrion said.

The Great Danes were off and running again. The Suero trey started a 14-2 run and they were back in control of the game.

The Wildcats had one last gasp and got it to 52-41 with four minutes left on a Myrick steal and layup.

They got no closer than that.

UNH shot 28 percent for the game. Albany was just over 36 percent.

“I thought defensively we were fine,” Herrion said. “Around the paint, second chance points and the glass did us in.”

Herrion was happy with his team's late-season run and the way the Wildcats rallied after losing their first three conference games. They were 1-5 in the league at one point and finished 7-9.

“It was just disappointing we didn't play better today,” he said. “When you get down to March and it's one and done, you've got to play well. We weren't on top of our game today.”

- - - - - - -

Abreu concluded his career third on UNH's career scoring list behind Al McClain (1,861 points from 1980-84) and Robin Dixon (1,590 from 1979-83). Abreu, who was a fifth-year senior after missing most of last season with a knee injury, had 1,583 career points. . . . Benson finished with 642 career rebounds, which is eighth on the career list. . . . Albany started five juniors and did not have senior on the roster.

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