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Men's Basketball: Wildcats recover, run past Maine

Special to the Union Leader

February 08. 2018 11:46PM

DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team played only one good half but it was enough to get the win over rival Maine.

The Wildcats turned a 10-point halftime deficit into a resounding 71-56 win over the Black Bears in America East play Thursday night at Lundholm Gym.

The Wildcats improved to 10-15 overall, 6-5 in the league heading into Sunday afternoon’s game against UMBC at Lundholm.

“A great win for us,” UNH coach Bill Herrion said. “When you get to this time of the year, stretch run, it’s a grind. Obviously we’re coming off two tough losses. Right now it’s five regular-season games left. We got to find a way to win a game. To the kids’ credit, we did that.”

The story of the second half was the domination by the senior duo of Tanner Leissner and Iba Camara. Leissner scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the second half as well as all three of his assists. Camara had 12 of his 15 points after halftime and finished with a game-high 16 rebounds.

Freshman guards Elijah Jordan and Evan Horn reached double digits with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

“They’ve been helping us so much,” Camara said of the young guards. “Evan is now getting the flow of the game. He sets the tone. They really did a nice job trying to get us going, and that’s what we need. I know they’re young. Evan is doing a great, great job, and Elijah is fighting through it and been helping us a lot.”

The first half was a nightmare for the Wildcats. UNH shot 22.9 percent from the field and couldn’t defend on the other end.

Maine led 37-26 with 17:48 left in the second half before the Wildcats found their groove.

UNH took over and controlled every aspect of the game right until the final horn. New Hampshire outscored Maine 45-19 down the stretch to put the game on ice. New Hampshire, led by Camara, outrebounded Maine 47-32, including a 22-10 advantage in the second half.

The Wildcats held Maine to 33 percent shooting in the second half while making 51.7 percent of their shots on the other end. The Black Bears were led offensively by 16 points from Aaron Calixte.

Leissner said that the team was left to its own devices at halftime to inspire itself and try to right the ship.

“We all just tried to speak up and tried to motivate ourselves,” Leissner said. “Luke (Rosinski) said some words that made us open our eyes and try to come out and play harder. Being an older player on this team, I knew I had to step up. We knew it was a big game. I knew I had to be more vocal.”

Early in the second half, graduate student Jacoby Armstrong hit a pair of free throws to put him over 1,000 points for his career. He is the 33rd Wildcat to reach 1,000.

“He’s been here the longest, and he’s my guy,” Herrion said of Armstrong. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in five years. He’s a wonderful, wonderful kid and has done a phenomenal job here at UNH both academically and basketball wise.”

Women’s basketball

Maine 77, UNH 46: In Bangor, Maine, forward Olivia Healy led the Wildcats with 15 points and center Carlie Pogue had 10. UNH is 15-10 overall and 6-6 in America East play. The Wildcats play at UMBC on Sunday. Maine improved to 17-8 overall and 10-2 in the league.

College Durham