Men's Basketball: UNH squanders lead in loss to UMBC | New Hampshire
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Men's Basketball: UNH squanders lead in loss to UMBC

Special to the Union Leader

February 11. 2018 10:39PM

DURHAM — It was a script all too familiar for the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team that culminated in the same unwanted result.

The Wildcats let a lead slip away down the stretch as Maryland-Baltimore County sprinted to the final horn to take down New Hampshire 68-59 at Lundholm Gym.

The Retrievers hit their final six field goals and finished the game on a 16-7 run over the final 5:17.

“I thought it was a gutsy win by our guys,” UMBC coach Ryan Odom said. “It’s not easy to come in here and leave happy.”

UNH now sits 10-16 overall and 6-6 in America East play with four games left in the regular season, the next three of which are on the road.

The Retrievers got to the bucket consistently thanks to their speedy unit of guards. Senior Jairus Lyles led all scorers with 18 points while Jourdan Grant had 14 for UMBC. Senior point guard K.J. Maura had eight assists.

Many of UMBC’s 34 points in the paint came off of layups from the guards. UMBC also controlled the glass, winning the rebounding battle 33-30.

“They really weren’t making too many jump shots,” UNH junior guard Jordan Reed said. “They were just driving us in the paint. We’ve got to be better; we can’t let them score layups on us so easily. They were just taking it to us at the basket.”

Things went well for UNH early as the Wildcats and UMBC traded the lead often. The Wildcats got production from multiple players early on and went into halftime up 31-29 and led 48-45 with 8:25 to go.

Senior forward Tanner Leissner led the Wildcats with 16 points while Reed and senior center Iba Camara each chipped in 11.

Freshman guard Josh Hopkins stepped up off the bench with 13 points including three 3-pointers.

“I think he’s going to be a great player,” UNH coach Bill Herrion said of Hopkins. “I think Josh has a great shot. He’s a hard worker. He was good. I think they sky’s the limit for him.”

Early in the first half, Leissner hit a pair of free throws to get him to 1,862 points for his career, eclipsing the school’s all-time scoring record of 1,861 which had been held by Al McClain since 1984.

“I never really thought about it my first few years,” Leissner said. “The start of this year people asked about it. I set goals for myself this season, but it was about being a leader and reaching our goals. I’m blessed to have a great coach and teammates to get me in this position.”

UNH’s next game is Thursday at reigning league champ Vermont.

“We’re going to take a day off tomorrow, take a deep breath, and obviously a monumental challenge on our hands up at Vermont,” Herrion said. “We’ve had some games here that are swing games, and unfortunately we’ve not come on the right side of the swing games. That’s what’s disappointing. Good teams win home games in conference play, and we haven’t been able to do that consistently this year.”

Hooksett’s Max Curran, a former Pembroke Academy star, went 1-for-1 from 3-point land in nine minutes of action for UMBC. Curran is a freshman forward.