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The beat goes on for UVM vs. UNH

Special to the Union Leader

February 15. 2018 10:36PM

BURLINGTON, Vt. — It was the same as it’s always been for the majority of this century for the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team: head up Route 89 to Burlington and lose to Vermont.

This time, the Wildcats went shot for shot early, and led multiple times in the first 30 minutes until Vermont pulled away down the stretch for a 71-58 win in front of a packed house at Patrick Gym.

The Catamounts were without starting guard Ernie Duncan, who was out with concussion symptoms.

It was the 20th straight win for Vermont over UNH in Burlington dating back to Jan. 8, 2000. The Wildcats aren’t the only team UVM beats: Vermont (12-0 in America East, 22-5 overall) has a 15-game winning streak, a 22-game home winning streak and a 31-game home win streak in conference play.

“That’s why they are who they are,” UNH coach Bill Herrion said. “If you’re going to beat them you have to beat them for 40 minutes. They are not going to beat themselves.”

Up 48-46 with 11:07 left, things went sideways for the Wildcats. Vermont scored the next 14 points to open a 60-48 lead, and UNH had no answer.

Vermont was led by Cam Ward and Drew Urquhart, who had 14 and 13 points. Vermont also outrebounded New Hampshire 42-32. Everett Duncan chipped in 13 as well.

Vermont shot 42.9 percent from the field compared to New Hampshire’s 32.8.

“The layups are just back breakers,” UNH junior guard Jordan Reed said. “They just continue to make layups on us, right over our heads. We can’t let that continue to happen.”

The first 30 minutes went well for UNH as the Wildcats defended well and converted on offensive chances. The Wildcats got a dozen points each from senior forward Tanner Leissner and junior guard John Ogwuche. Leissner was held to 4-for-18 shooting.

The Wildcats couldn’t find a way to get a meaningful stop late and the Catamounts kept racking up buckets despite senior captain Trae Bell-Haynes facing foul trouble all game.

The loss dropped UNH to 10-17 and 6-7 in America East. “I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job of getting this team to understand (the importance of) playing 40 minutes,” Herrion said. “I don’t think we’ve played a full 40-minute game, maybe Dartmouth.”

With three games left in the season the Wildcats now find themselves on the wrong side of the America East standings with three games to play. After hosting the last three years of America East Conference playoffs, UNH sits fifth on the ladder behind an 8-5 Albany team in fourth.

Sunday’s game against Stony Brook, which is 5-8 in the conference, will have big implications as to which team finishes fifth in the league. The Wildcats finish the season with a road game at Hartford next Wednesday and senior day in Durham against UMass Lowell on Feb. 27.

“It’s my job as the head coach to get the players more prepared for these situations,” Herrion said. “We haven’t answered the bell in these swing games.”

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