The UNH men’s basketball team kicked off their spring semester with a trip to western New York when they paid a visit to the Binghamton Bearcats.
The Wildcats got back above the .500 mark as the eight-point victory pushed their record to 10-9.
No side gained an edge in the opening minutes of the game; through the first five minutes neither team held more than a two-point lead, and the sides were locked at seven with 13 minutes to play in the opening half.
Junior guard Sean Sutherlin contributed five of the team’s first seven points and added 10 the rest of the way, totaling 15.
Binghamton began to break away as they led by as many as seven points twice in the first half. A pair of three-pointers from senior guard Richard Caldwell Jr., and first-year guard George Tinsley gave their side the highest leads of the half.
A string of jumpers by UNH helped close the gap before heading into the locker room. The Bearcats carried just a 32-30 lead after twenty minutes.
Binghamton came out of the locker room hot as they pulled the lead to as much as nine points. Caldwell Jr. and first-year forward Brenton Mills sunk a pair of threes at the start of the half.
It wasn’t until nine minutes into the half that UNH finally took the lead back by way of a Josh Hopkins three-pointer. The junior guard’s jump shot extended the lead once more with seven minutes to play, as his three-pointer gave UNH a five-point cushion that wouldn’t stray too far for the remainder of the game.
The Wildcats attempted eight free throws in the final minute of action propelling the team to an eight-point win before heading back home.
Hopkins led all UNH scorers with 23 points and four rebounds. Sophomore guard Marque Maultsby, Sutherlin, and sophomore forward Jayden Martinez were among the other Wildcat scorers who netted at least 12 points; the trio totaled 16, 15, and 12 points respectively.
The Wildcats returned home on Wednesday night to take on the 15-6 UVM Catamounts.
UNH dominated Vermont on the defensive end early on, as senior Anthony Lamb and the offense looked distraught from the jump. UNH had trouble finding the bottom of the net in the first five minutes, only scoring four points by way of a Chris Lester three-pointer, and a Jayden Martinez free throw.
The slow offense continued past the 10-minute mark as it wouldn’t be until 7:42 remaining in the first half that either side broke into double figures.
Defense was a clear point of emphasis for both sides as neither would give an inch for much of the first half. Players like Sutherlin and sophomore forward Nick Guadarrama who are most effective when charging towards the hoop were shut down.
The Catamounts began to catch fire towards the end of the half, taking an 11-point lead into the final minutes following a 12-0 run.
UNH head coach Bill Herrion was proud of how his team played defensively and attributed the UVM run to offensive mistakes leading to transition points for the opposition. 10 of the team’s 15 turnovers came from their primary ballhandlers, Maultsby and Sutherlin.
Vermont head coach John Becker emphasized how his team’s transition offense got them out of the early hole.
“We really wanted to play in transition with this group,” said Becker. “Once we got the pace going [Ben Shungu] and [Bailey Patella] did a good job of getting out in transition.”
UNH wasn’t able to close the gap by much before halftime, the team went into the locker room down 16-25.
UVM got the lead up to 15 points within the first five minutes of the second half. The only UNH offense during the run came from a pair of Martinez threes.
The deficit for UNH wouldn’t waiver much from that point forward, as UVM even brought it to as many as 18 at multiple points in the final half.
The Wildcats fell back to .500 by a final score of 43-56; stretching their record to 16-6.
“They’re tough, they’re very tough,” said Herrion. “We aren’t ready for them … yet.”
Herrion continued to stress the fact that this is only one game in a big picture but understood that this was a very winnable game against a very good opponent.
“If you had told me that they would only have 25 points at halftime, I would say that we’re in great shape.”
UNH’s only true spark on the offensive end came from Jayden Martinez who shot a perfect four-of-four from behind the arc. Martinez led the way with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks.
Despite his slow start, Lamb chipped away at the UNH defense using his size to his advantage. Lamb netted 20 points to lead Vermont, while adding five rebounds and two steals.
Lamb praised UNH for their tough play, while adding that he didn’t feel a need to take over the game offensively; simply taking what the defense was giving him.
“They’re always a great team, well coached, and they always play hard for 40 minutes.”
UNH will go south of the border on Saturday, Feb. 1 when they take on the UMass Lowell Riverhawks to try and get back to a winning record.