After a promising start to the season, UNH fell back down to earth after its games against Abilene Christian University and West Virginia University.
The Wildcats played two games over the past four days, each resulting in a loss. The first came on Thursday, Nov. 17 against ACU. UNH fell to ACU 65-57 in a game where poor shooting and a too-little-too-late surge at the end of the game sealed the defeat for UNH.
The Wildcats then traveled down to Morgantown, West Virginia to face the No. 19 West Virginia Mountaineers. To put it frankly, the Wildcats were demolished as the team lost 100-41 in a game where UNH shot 30.4 percent from the field compared to WVU’s 54.4 percent. The losses drop UNH back to .500 with a 2-2 record. The West Virginia game may have been more likely to predict a UNH loss, the game against ACU was anything but.
Going into the game against the ACU Wildcats, the momentum looked to be in UNH’s favor as the team was coming off a surprise win over the fifth-winningest program in men’s basketball history, Temple University, on Monday, Nov. 14.
The Wildcats had also beaten ACU last year as UNH traveled down to Abilene, Texas and beat ACU 86-75. However, this meant nothing at the final buzzer. UNH never had a lead in the entire game against Abilene Christian. This was mostly because of the poor shooting the team had for the entire game. At one point, UNH was down 21-7 and had a 7.1 percent shooting percentage compared to ACU’s 47.1 percent in the first half. By halftime, UNH was trailing 34-17.
“We had a lot of open looks in the first half. I think individual players have to have the toughness and the courage to just step up and make shots,” coach Bill Herrion said about what was the cause of the first half shooting slump. “We couldn’t establish an inside game and that was mostly in part that we were not looking for it.”
In the second half, UNH outscored ACU 40-31, which was mostly carried by a sudden scoring surge from senior guard Jaleen Smith. Smith finished with a game high 27 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. However, UNH’s first half shooting drought was too much to overcome and the ‘Cats lost 65-57.
“There is a right way to lose and a wrong way to lose and I think we lost the wrong way,” Herrion said on the loss to ACU. “For the first 25 to 30 minutes, I did not see any fight in our basketball team… I saw a team that thought they could show up because they are UNH and win and that is not how college basketball is. We got what we deserved.”
Whereas UNH may have had a chance to win against ACU, the result of the West Virginia game was determined early.
The Wildcats lost 100-41 in a game where 12 WVU players scored and six had double-digit point totals. The man who has usually kept the Wildcats in games did not show up. Smith did not register a single point in 27 minutes of play and only had two rebounds.
On a positive note, UNH’s Iba Camara had a good game despite the outcome. The Senegalese forward earned a double-double in the game with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Camara also had seven of UNH’s costly 34 turnovers in the loss.
UNH will be looking to bounce back as they return home and face the Detroit Mercy Titans on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.