UNH men’s basketball: Career night for Tchoukuiegno boosts Wildcats past Central Connecticut State

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Cameron Beall

WILDCATS 67, BLUE DEVILS 45

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (4-2, 0-0) kept themselves in the win column on Saturday night with a 67-45 win over the Central Connecticut State (CCSU) Blue Devils (2-7, 0-0). It was a pair of unlikely players that got the job done for New Hampshire in this one. Senior big man Tayler Mattos got UNH off the ground early. But it was sophomore point guard Blondeau Tchoukuiegno’s career-high 20 points that truly put the Blue Devils to sleep on a night when CCSU played UNH tighter than the scoreboard may have read. 

Outside of a 17-2 run late in the first half and a handful of buckets from Tchoukuiegno late in the second half, New Hampshire struggled to find a groove offensively for most of the night. Both head coach Bill Herrion and Tchoukuiegno mentioned how well CCSU game planned for their star seniors, Jayden Martinez and Nick Guadarrama. 

“They kind of surprised us because they were scrambling in the post, and they were double or triple teaming Jayden [Martinez] a lot of the time,” Tchoukuiegno explained. “We’ve got to get used to that and play off of it because Jayden and Nick [Guadarrama] are going to draw a lot of attention for the whole year, so we’ve got to adjust and play through that.” 

Tchoukuiengo was eventually able to adjust to the Blue Devils’ defense, noting that the amount of attention drawn by Martinez and Guadarrama helps the rest of the team get open looks. 

Tchoukuiegno finished the night with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting including 3-for-6 from the 3-point line. He added four rebounds, five assists and three steals to his line as well.  

Eleven of the team’s final 13 points came by way of the point guard. He held Lundholm Gymnasium in the palm of his hand by the end of the night and handed CCSU their seventh loss before conference play has even begun. 

Three-point shooting was something that Tchoukuiegno said he made an effort to improve in the offseason to expand his game from just being a facilitator. Herrion has been impressed with his improved offensive game to this point.  

“As a head coach you can probably count on one or two hands the amount of players that you coach in your career that just really get it,” said Herrion. “Every single day he comes into the gym, and he plays like [he did on Saturday]. I don’t have to push him, motivate him, he just brings it every day. He’s so coachable. He’s just terrific.” 

The Wildcats have proven their scoring depth within the starting lineup through six games. Tchoukuiegno’s backcourt partner, sophomore Nick Johnson added 13 points and six rebounds to the box score while Martinez notched his third double-double of the year with 14 points and 12 boards. Where Herrion is still looking for more production is from his second unit. New Hampshire’s bench scored a combined three points on Saturday; graduate student Josh Hopkins was the only one to find the bottom of the net. The group was 1-for-14 from the field. 

Two players in particular who have gone cold over the last three games are junior transfer Sloan Seymour and senior guard Qon Murphy. Seymour is 0-for-9 shooting from the field over this stretch and is only shooting 22% from 3-point range on the year – an area that he was considered a specialist in. Murphy hasn’t been as quiet but compared to his first three games of the season when he averaged 11.7 points, he’s seen a bit of a drop in production. Murphy has scored 2.7 per game over this last three-game stretch. 

New Hampshire will have their fifth win of the season in mind when they head to Bryant (3-6, 0-0) on Wednesday for a date with the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. from the Chace Athletic Center. 

Photo courtesy of Andrew Yourell