WILDCATS 70, GOLDEN EAGLES 75
MILWAUKEE, WI. — Through two games this season, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (1-1, 0-0) are still figuring out their identity; the early returns show a confident group that will have the ability to stick with any team on their schedule this season, but head coach Bill Herrion is still waiting on some of the improvements they emphasized over the offseason.
In their most recent contest with the Marquette Golden Eagles (3-0, 0-0), New Hampshire continued to be effective in certain areas that Herrion has always focused on, most notably rebounding. The Wildcats kept pace with the Golden Eagles in that category as each team finished with 38. Four different Wildcats finished with five or more rebounds, including three players with eight.
Herrion also noted how proud he was of his team’s effort and ability to stick with a team out of the Big East. In New Hampshire’s opening night win over the Division III Saint Joseph’s (SJC) Monks (1-2, 0-0), Herrion’s team came out of halftime playing their most aggressive basketball of the night with a 22-point lead. He explained that he wants his team to be able to put together a full 40 minutes no matter the score; that’s exactly what the Wildcats did at Marquette.
After being outscored 34-29 in the first half thanks to a late run by Marquette, New Hampshire was able to keep pace the rest of the way. Each team scored 41 points in the second half, and the Wildcats even found themselves in the lead with less than five minutes to play. From that point on, however, a slew of baskets from graduate student Darryl Morsell and first-year forward Justin Lewis swung the lead back into Marquette’s favor. The Golden Eagles won by an eventual 75-70 final.
Despite going on the road to face a higher-level opponent, Herrion says this one still stings after the way his team battled on Friday night.
“It hurts, I thought we had a chance to win the basketball game, but it’s something that we’ve got to really grow on,” he said.
One area UNH hasn’t seen come to life as much as they may have anticipated is their 3-point shooting. At home against the Monks, New Hampshire shot just 3-for-16 (18.8%) from distance. On Friday, although the team improved to 44.4% shooting 12-for-27, eight of the team’s threes came from senior forwards Jayden Martinez and Nick Guadarrama.
While Herrion is happy with the way his team has played so far, he says they’re going to need more production from some other players to reach their full potential.
“We need our perimeter, and we need our guards to step up and make more shots, make a few more threes, and then we’re going to become very hard to guard,” Herrion explained.
Martinez led the way for UNH with 21 points and eight rebounds. Guadarrama was on his heels with 15 points while also adding eight boards.
New Hampshire will have a chance to get back in the win column on Thursday night when they pay a visit to the Providence Friars (3-0, 0-0) at 6:30 p.m. on FS2. The Friars will be New Hampshire’s second straight Big East matchup and are coming off a 63-58 win over the Wisconsin Badgers (2-1, 0-0).
Photo courtesy of Larry Radloff Photography