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Men's Basketball: Wildcats stumble again

Special to the Union Leader

February 21. 2018 10:38PM

HARTFORD, Conn. — It was like the vast majority of games this season for the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team.

The Wildcats went shot for shot with the Hartford Hawks for the majority of the game but faded in the final few minutes to lose 65-56 at Chase Family Arena.

The loss drops UNH to 10-19 and 6-9 in America East.

“You’re in a close game and we need guys to make plays,” UNH coach Bill Herrion said. “We don’t have enough guys making plays.”

The first half was a mess as both teams played streaky basketball but didn’t muster anything consistent. Hartford led by 10 early before UNH punched back and took a seven-point lead before going into halftime up 32-31.

The second half went as many second halves have gone for the Wildcats this season with New Hampshire tantalizingly close behind before watching the gap grow in the final few minutes. Hartford outscored New Hampshire 9-0 over the final 2:48 of the game.

“We just got to make shots,” senior forward Tanner Leissner said. “I struggled today, but ultimately have to make shots. We can’t shoot 34 percent. We just got to try to step up and make shots.”

Freshman point guard Elijah Jordan led the Wildcats with 14 points. The Wildcats also got strong games from the senior duo of Leissner and Iba Camara. Leissner had 12 points while Camara had seven points and 11 rebounds. Camara is now just three rebounds shy of 1,000 for his career.

Graduate student forward Jacoby Armstrong had 11 points in 26 minutes off the bench.

“This was probably one of his better games in a while,” Herrion said of Jordan. “When guys make shots it looks like you play well. We just don’t have enough guys making shots. We’re in the same situation it almost seems very game and we’re not making plays.”

The Wildcats outrebounded Hartford 38-35 and had four more assists than the Hawks while turning the ball over only eight times. However, as has been the case this season, the Wildcats couldn’t put the ball in the bucket. UNH shot 33.9 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three.

Hartford had four scorers in double digits led by a game-high 17 points from J.R. Lynch.

UNH gets a week off before hosting UMass-Lowell in the last regular season game for both teams on Tuesday night. The Wildcats beat the River Hawks 74-62 in Lowell on Jan. 15.

It will the last game at Lundholm Gym for Camara, Leissner, Armstrong and Keon Burns. Armstrong said that playing with fire and energy is a must if the team wants to make a run in the conference tournament.

“It starts with me Tanner, Keon and Iba,” Armstrong said. “We got to lead way by playing with urgency. After UMass Lowell there’s no guarantee. If we do that, the team will follow.”