UNH Men’s Basketball: Wildcats Defeat UAlbany and UMass Lowell

Joey Rizzi, Sports Writer

DURHAM, N.H. – It was a great week in Durham as the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (10-10, 5-3) defeated the University at Albany Great Danes (6-17, 1-7), followed by a victory over the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) River Hawks (17-6, 5-4). 

The Wildcats have relied on their defense to keep them in challenging games. Despite their poor record, Albany has some very talented pieces that can be tough to defend. 

“It’s the key for us when we play good defense and get stops,” said Wildcats head coach Bill Herrion. 

First-year player Jonathan Beagle can be a force down low for the Great Danes. He’s won America East rookie of the week six times this season. UNH has had struggles this year guarding in the post at times but fared well in this game. 

Grad forward Jaxson Baker and first-year forward Ridvan Tutic split time to defend in the post, limiting Beagle to 11 points. Kyree Brown was excellent, scoring a game-high 23 points. Brown was more than just a scorer for the ‘Cats, though. His ability to conduct the offense and beat guys off the dribble was brilliant. 

Matt Herasme added a career-high 22 points for UNH and found an offensive rhythm early in the game. 

“He was terrific tonight, he was terrific that last game,” said Herrion. 

He added that he wanted his team to find more balance in scoring. He’s well aware of the talent across the board and doesn’t want to rely on guys like junior forward Clarence Daniels to carry the scoring every game. 

The Wildcats cruised to an 84-65 victory and had their eyes set on a crucial matchup on Saturday against the UML River Hawks. 

The game started as a dogfight. Both teams played very aggressive defense, forcing the other team to turn the ball over. Both teams tallied 8 turnovers in the first half. 

UML led by 7 going into halftime, but UNH was able to steal the momentum in the second half. Jaxson Baker was lights out from three, muscling the Wildcats back into the game. 

Baker’s ability to stretch the floor proved critical to the Wildcat’s comeback. Once again, the opposition’s big man was the most difficult guy to guard for UNH. This time it was senior forward Abdoul Karim Coulibaly. 

Stretching him out to the three-point line due to Baker’s three-point success opened the middle for Clarence Daniels and Kyree Brown to attack the rim. Daniels led the scoring with 22, while Brown had 10 assists. 

“Kyree Brown did a tremendous job just running the show for us,” said Bill Herrion. “Jaxson Baker was huge off the bench obviously making threes, but holding the fort with the big kid Coulibaly.” 

They won in a thriller 69-65. Multiple Wildcat players have blossomed into their roles and this team is feeling confident going forward. UNH will face the NJIT Highlanders (6-14, 3-4) in another conference matchup on Wednesday night.