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UNH squeaks past Holy Cross, challenges St. John’s


UNH men’s basketball (2-1) continued to get to the hoop early and often in their first division one matchup of the season against Holy Cross (0-3). 

The Wildcat offense featured a lot of quick, crisp passes to get the team out to an early 17-7 lead. The Crusaders slowly chipped away at the lead before they tied the game at 17 apiece; and this is the closest that Holy Cross would get all afternoon, as UNH wouldn’t surrender the lead the rest of the day. 

Sophomore forward Jayden Martinez energized the Wildcats early, shooting two-for-three from downtown in the first half, including the first basket of the game. Martinez contributed 11 points to the Wildcats four-point victory. 

UNH carried a six-point lead into halftime and came out firing in the first few minutes of the second half. Back-to-back three-pointers from junior guard Josh Hopkins would help give the home team a nine-point lead less than five minutes into the half. These baskets added to Hopkins’ 15 points, shooting four-for-nine from three-point range. 

The sides would jostle for leverage the rest of the way, as UNH couldn’t quite put the game out of reach for Holy Cross. The visitors came within one point of the Wildcats three different times in the final 20 minutes, but couldn’t quite make up the necessary ground. 

Head coach Bill Herrion mentioned how Holy Cross was a team that couldn’t be taken lightly, despite the fact that his squad could’ve pulled away at multiple points. 

“We have emphasized the defense,” said Herrion. “I thought we had them on the ropes about three or four times during that game, but you’ve got to give credit to them, they’re a very good offensive basketball team.” 

The Wildcats were not able to pull away as time ticked off the fourth quarter clock due to late-game fouls, giving Holy Cross hope. Ultimately, UNH would ice the game with free throws from Martinez and senior guard Mark Carbone, securing the 87-83 win. 

Six-foot-five-inch sophomore Nick Guadarrama picked up right where he left off against Curry College. Following his 20-point, 18-rebound performance on opening night, the forward had no trouble finding the basket scoring 28 points and pulled down 13 boards in the win – once again being the most efficient and versatile players on the floor. In the second half of this game Guadarrama treated the Crusaders to a heavy dose of interior points. The forward tortured his opposition close to the basket all afternoon, shooting 11-for-14 from the floor. 

Guadarrama commented on how important it is to have a consistent offensive attack from so many players, that way the team doesn’t stay reliant on any specific guy. 

“It’s a lot of fun because it’s going to help us in the long run when people don’t have good games we have other people that can score, other people that can pass, other people that can facilitate – we have a lot of pieces that can do a lot of different things.” 

Following the win at home, UNH went on the road to St. John’s for their toughest test of this young season. It was a back-and-forth battle, and St. John’s wouldn’t pull away until late in the second half. 

UNH jumped out to an early 10-point lead and would extend it to 12 points by the midway point in the first half. Three-pointers from Guadarrama, Carbone and senior forward Chris Lester would help pad the Wildcat lead. 

The two sides would exchange runs, but St. John’s would close the gap and tie the game by halftime. 

In the first eight minutes of the second half, St. John’s would manufacture a 10-point lead. Guadarrama would slim the lead to one possession, but the Wildcats failed to capitalize before the Red Storm would pull away for a 13-point victory. This was UNH’s first loss of the season, and it came by a 61-74 final. 

The Wildcats have proven their ability to spread the ball around early in the season as they’ve had at least four players in double figures in each of the first three games. Lester led UNH in a game that was within grasp. The big man had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists – shooting three-for-seven from deep. 

Herrion talked about the versatility of the offense compared to past years. 

“When you look at our offense, it’s so much different than the past, we’ve got multiple guys that can score around the basket.” 

The team now heads to Boston where they have a date with the BU Terriers. That game will tip-off on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. 

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