UNH Men’s Basketball: The Wildcats Take Care Of Bulldogs And Book Ticket To Semi Finals

Spencer Marks, Sports Editor

Durham N.H.- The copious amounts of snow was no match for the Durham community that packed Lundholm Gymnasium last afternoon for the America East Quarter Finals as they played a significant factor in the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats’ victory over the Bryant Bulldogs. 

Well before the hype entered the gymnasium, UNH head coach Herrion spoke to the media and expressed his concerns revolving around their opponent. 

“They have a lot more big game experience and tournament experience. They won the North East conference last year, went to the NCAA tournament, they were in the championship game the year before…and they’ve got guys that have played on bigger stages than our guys.”

But the Wildcat roster was up to the task. As captain graduate student forward Jaxson Baker expressed his confidence in his team following their win against NJIT on Tuesday. 

“Last win against NJIT was certainly something special but I have a sneaky feeling that the most fun part of the year is still to be had,” Baker said, “We’ll see if we can make some things happen and make a little run at it.”

That quote would go on to age perfectly as the Wildcats had plenty of fun in what was an electric game. The game however did not start in an electric fashion for the ‘Cats. It took some time before the boys in white could find their rhythm. 

It all started with a 6-0 Bryant lead out of the gates as the Bulldogs band and cheerleaders out-chanted the UNH bleachers. The Wildcats finally got on the board thanks to graduate student forward Matt Harasme’s layup. But the momentum from that layup was not enough to propel UNH in the right direction as over time Bryant took a 16-8 lead. 

Luckily, junior forward Clarance Daniels kicked off an 8-0 run for the Wildcats by splashing down a momentum-shifting three-pointer. This added to what was a truly impressive day for Daniels as he tallied a total of 22 points, 14 rebounds, and his America East conference-leading 15th double-double of the season. 

UNH took their first lead of the day when first-year guard Christian Moore got going from beyond the arch for the second game in a row to put them up 21-18. Shortly after, the Bulldogs went on a 10-2 run to silence Lundholm gym and end the first half of play. 

Junior guard Kyree Brown spoke on what was said at halftime when the Wildcats were down 28-23.

“To just keep fighting and that we have been in this position before,” Brown said, “It’s just growth when you put a whole bunch of new guys together it’s going to be tough and everybody is going to be going through the roller coaster of the season but we stuck with it and trusted the process.”

The second half had its ups and downs as Bryant took many four-point leads and the Wildcats had their fair share of one-point leads. But the most notable four-point lead for Bryant was when they went up 42-38. 

That is when Daniels took matters into his own hands and scored eight straight points of his own to put the ‘Cats up by two points with just under four minutes remaining in the game. What followed this moment was the game-changing moment by none other than the clutch three-point shooter himself, Jaxson Baker.

From there on out the quarter-finals turned into a free throw game for the Wildcats and boy oh boy did Brown deliver. In the last three minutes of the game, Brown went a star-studded 10-10 from the line to seal a 67-60 win over the talented Bryant team. 

Daniels spoke after the game regarding the team’s mindset going into the semi-finals. 

“Everybody who is in front of us we’ve already beaten before so we just gotta play our game, do what we do and let the chips fall where they may.”

Following the conclusion of all of the other America East quarter-final games, the stage is set for the semi-finals this Tuesday night. UNH will travel down to the top-notch two-seed UMass Lowell Riverhawks with whom they have a split series this season. The Riverhawks have yet to lose a game at home this season notching a 16-0 record.