UNH Men’s Basketball: Wildcats Take On Three Games In One Week


Joey Rizzi, Sports Writer

DURHAM, N.H. – It appeared that the sky was falling on the Wildcats’ season as a late-game collapse and a devastating loss for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (3-5) happened against the surging Sacred Heart University (SHU) Pioneers (5-3) by a final score of 66-61.

Last Wednesday marked the return of Junior guard Nick Johnson who was voted a captain of the team and proved his leadership throughout. He tallied 11 points but typically makes more of an impact in transition and on defense. 

“I was very excited when I first checked into the game. I put a lot of work into rehab and into strengthening my body to get back to this point,” said Johnson.  

Despite the low-scoring affair, Johnson felt that their defensive effort was the issue in the game. 

“Defense… definitely. We didn’t contain the ball well at all tonight, starting with me. Honestly, I gave up too many points,” said Johnson. 

UNH struggled in one on one defense allowing easy drives to the basket. This was an issue for much of the game and led to easy buckets for the Pioneers. 

“Just defensively we just got beat off the dribble in our man-to-man defense. Our perimeter players just [played] bad,” said head coach Bill Herrion. “Especially the last 10-15 minutes of the game. All they did was just drive it.”

Nico Galette came in as the leading scorer for Sacred Heart and dominated late in the game. He tallied 17 points in the game. Herrion was confident that inserting Sophomore forward Trey Woodyard into the starting lineup would help contain him. For the most part, he was right. 

“Galette’s a really good player. I thought he [Woodyard] did a really good job on him,” said Herrion. “We really trust him defensively.”

Woodyard was held strong for much of the game on that end of the floor and still was able to contribute offensively. He shot 3-3 from the field, tallying 7 points. 

Fast forward to Saturday, and the Wildcats were tested against the Columbia University Lions (3-7), losing by a final score of 56-52. 

This was deemed a key stretch for UNH, as they have started to see up to three worthy opponents in a week’s span. The season is heating up and this was expected to be the time when the newcomers started gelling. 

It hadn’t been pretty, with the Wildcats continuing their struggle to score. Following the Columbia game, they were scoring just over 60 points, which won’t win them many games in today’s game. Their defense has been somewhat consistent, though, keeping them in most contests. 

Columbia felt like a repeat of Wednesday night, with the Wildcats not being able to finish the game strong. They were spiraling quickly with 5 consecutive losses heading into a road game at the Boston College (BC) Eagles (5-5). 

This was the game UNH fans had been waiting for. It felt like a breakthrough game for the Wildcats, who were finally able to finish a game strong. 

UNH was leading by 9 with 11 minutes remaining. They seemed destined for another 4th quarter collapse, as it became a tie game in the final few minutes. 

Down by three, following two made free throws by the Eagles, the Wildcats entered desperation mode. It became a broken play with player of the game Clarence Daniels finding space on the three-point line. Daniels knocked down the tying three with 1.3 seconds to play, essentially forcing overtime. 

Graduate guard Nazim Derry hit the dagger three in overtime to put away the Eagles and secure the historic win for UNH. 

“The guys were terrific right from the opening tip,” said Bill Herrion. “That’s just a great win.” 

This was the first win over the Eagles since 1986, as UNH has lost the last 15 meetings between the two. 

Once again, Daniels was the star of the show. He totaled 34 points and 14 rebounds. 

“Best birthday of my life,” said Daniels. “In practice, I’m struggling against these guys and it made me better and prepared me for tonight.”

The interesting story, though, was Trey Woodyard, whose stock has been rising. He didn’t score any points, but it was his first game starting at point guard, a position the Wildcats have not had success at. 

Junior point guard Kyree Brown didn’t see any action in this game, despite having been a staple in the UNH lineup. 

Multiple guys contributed to bringing the ball up including Daniels, Woodyard, and Nick Johnson. They deployed a bigger lineup than normal and were able to match the physicality of BC.

This was a great win for the Wildcats and potentially a major turning point in the season. They’ll look to build on this victory with a tough opponent on Saturday at St. Johns (8-1).