By Sam Donnelly, Staff Writer
As the regular season winds to a close, UNH has positioned them where they want, while also playing their best basketball of the season. This past Saturday the Wildcats travelled to UMass Lowell to play a team without a chance to play in the post-season. It was also senior day. In the mind of head coach Bill Herrion, this was the definition of a trap game for the streaking Wildcats.
“I was very concerned for a couple different reasons,” Herrion said. “First off they were playing really well, they had won two in a row. We were coming off a week off as well. I didn’t know how we were going to respond.”
The Wildcats responded as well as they could have. UNH dominated the game from the opening tip, scoring the first seven points. They never surrendered the lead and cruised to a 76-60 win. Sophomore Jacoby Armstrong led the way with 16 points, while freshman Tanner Leissner chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Despite the convincing victory, Herrion wasn’t happy with the fouls the Wildcats committed. UNH fouled the River Hawks 27 times and gave them 29 attempts at the free throw line, which UMass Lowell turned into 17 points.
“We fouled way to much,” Herrion said. “It’s something we have to clean up. When you get to tournament time, the games get called a little bit closer.”
Speaking of tournament time, The Wildcats will host a quarterfinal game in the America East tournament on March 4 at 7 p.m. in Lundholm Gym. The first round matchup for the Wildcats will be determined after the regular season is over.
“The goal was to finish in the top four and get a first round home game,” Herrion said. “And we have done that. I’m hoping next Wednesday for the tournament game we can pack the place.”
The Wildcats have a chance to jump higher in the standings and potentially grab the second seed with a wins on the road at Vermont and at home on senior day against Maine. Those wins will not be easy, especially against No. 2 Vermont. The Wildcats beat Vermont 73-68 in late January in Lundholm.
“Beating a team twice is hard, beating a really good team twice is harder,” Herrion said. “Our first game here went down to the wire and we held on and won. They drive the ball well and they’re really good defensively. The question to me is can we go up there, in a tough environment, and run our offense.”
Over the past two games the junior guard Ronnel Jordan has played a total of eight minutes because of an issue with a meniscus in his knee. Jordan went to get an MRI last week and the results came back negative.
“He’s good to go,” Herrion said.
The Wildcats will host the University of Maine Black bears on Sat. Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. in Lundholm Gym. This game is the last of the regular season, and also senior day for the Wildcats in which seniors Tommy McDonnell and Matt Miller will be honored. The first 500 students to attend that game will receive free tickets to the America East quarterfinal game March 4.