The ‘Cats stayed true to the theme of ‘Light Up Lundholm’ night at Lundholm Gymnasium as the Wildcats put together an impressive performance against the University of Maine.
On Wednesday, the 15-11 Wildcats faced the 6-22 Black Bears in a late season America East matchup. UNH beat the Black Bears convincingly 64-51 in a game that saw the trident of senior guard Jaleen Smith, junior forward Iba Camara and junior forward Tanner Leissner play to their expectations.
Smith was the games leading scorer with 21 points and six assists. Smith also came within one rebound of a double-double, grapping nine. The game was a return to form for Smith as he had a string of sub-par games going into Wednesday night’s contest.
It was the first time Smith had a 20-point game since the double-overtime loss at UMBC on Jan. 28 where he earned 21 points and 10 assists. Camara continues to improve and cement his place as one of the most reliable players on the Wildcat team. Camara notched his eighth double-double of the season as he netted 12 points and grabbed a sizeable 16 rebounds for the game.
“His development is great. The thing with [Camara] is now he is starting to get confident,” head coach Bill Herrion said of Camara’s improvement over the course of the season. “The whole issue in the past was constant foul trouble and it hurt his production. Now he’s learning to stay on the floor longer.”
Camara has played a crucial role in the Wildcats’ development of a strong frontcourt all season, but that wouldn’t be such the case if it were not for the production of big man Leissner.
Leissner had 20 points and six rebounds for the game. Leissner’s strong performance is a step in the right direction as the Texas native is coming off a night against Binghamton on Feb. 14 where he put in a 27-point performance. As for the game itself, it was a slow start for the Wildcats against the lowly Black Bears.
With 5:54 remaining in the first half, the Wildcats were in a close one as they only led 17-15. This was in largely do in part to the poor shooting the team had from the field shooting a poor 28.6% up to that point.
“We just stayed aggressive and not being lackadaisical on offence,” Smith said of how the team was able to overcome its early struggles. “Mostly because of [Camara] and [Leissner] kept crashing the glass and getting third, fourth, and fifth chance buckets.”
However, the Wildcats finally kicked into gear and went on a 18-2 run to close the half and go up 35-19. From then on, the Wildcats would never relinquish the lead even going up by 26 points at one point. UNH cruised to a 64-51 victory.
“A really good win for us although it wasn’t picture perfect,” Herrion said of the victory. “But at this time in the year, [the team] is just trying to find wins. We are just trying to climb the ladder in this league.”
The win improves UNH’s regular season record to 16-11 and 7-6 in the America East standings thus tying them with UMBC record-wise. UNH stays home and will face the University of Harford Saturday, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m.