“Great win, a much needed win for us and a much needed win for the morale and a spirit lifter,” head coach Bill Herrion said of the Binghamton game. “We did everything we could to get this win. The guys deserve all the credit. They showed a lot of heart, grit and determination tonight.”
The Wildcats headed to Vestal, New York to square off against the Bearcats of Binghamton University on Sunday. UNH came back from a 21-point first half deficit to beat the Bearcats, 62-55. The win breaks the streak of four consecutive losses for the Wildcats.
It was a stellar game for junior forward Tanner Leissner who bullied his way to a game high 27-point performance, his third highest total this season. Leissner also pulled down seven rebounds, and was very efficient at the charity stripe making 12-13 free throws.
“I think it was a matter of [Leissner] playing smarter defensively,” Herrion said of his star big man who had only two fouls, which has been a hindrance on his play lately. “When [Leissner] or Jaleen [Smith] would come out, our production suffered. [Leissner] did a great job of staying out of trouble and giving us the production.”
As for the game, it had the makings of a horrendous blowout for the Wildcats. The Bearcats came out hot in the first half as the team amassed a 29-8 lead in the first nine minutes of play. However, UNH woke up and began chipping away at the deficit. At the end of the first half, UNH was still down, but not out, as it was 36-27 at the break.
It took until 7:56 to play in the second half for the comeback to be complete as UNH had the lead for the first time all game. Senior guard Jaleen Smith drove in for a layup to put the Wildcats ahead 47-46. UNH would not relinquish the lead and would come out as 63-55 victors over Binghamton.
“When you lose, it’s tough. I wasn’t sure where our confidence was,” Herrion said. “But we answered the call. It’s good to finally get home and we got a great opportunity to finish the season strong.”
The much-needed win comes off a defeat at the hands of the University of Vermont last Thursday, Feb. 9. The Catamounts beat the Wildcats in comfortable fashion, 82-74.
Although senior guard Daniel Dion tried to will the Wildcats to victory with a career-high 25-point game and nailing a career-high seven three’s, it wasn’t enough to topple the mighty Catamounts in the end. However, at one point, it looked like the Wildcats were on the verge of upsetting the conference-leading Vermont in the first half.
With 5:29 left to go in the first half, the Wildcats had a surprising 33-22 lead over the Catamounts. But a fast and furious 12-0 run by Vermont squashed any hope of maintaining the lead as UVM went up 34-33. The first half finished with both teams even at 38 all.
Vermont halted a UNH comeback as the team rattled off two separate 12-4 runs in the second half which was led by UVM’s Anthony Lamb who had a double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds. UNH had no answer for Lamb and the Catamounts as the final score went against UNH 82-74.
As it currently stands, UNH has a 15-11 regular season record and a 6-6 record in America East. This puts the Wildcats fifth in the conference behind the University at Albany. UNH returns home Wednesday, Feb. 15 to face the University of Maine Black Bears at Lundholm Gymnasium.