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Wildcat bench struggles in defeat

Good things come in threes. However, the UNH men’s basketball team may be thinking the opposite after Monday night’s contest.

The Wildcats faced America East opponent the University at Albany Great Danes on Monday, Feb. 6 at Lundholm Gymnasium. The two teams had met previously this season when the Wildcats traveled to New York and beat the Great Danes 76-67 on Jan. 17. However, the results would be reversed as UNH lost to Albany 69-55 in Monday’s game.

The two factors contributing to the defeat for UNH were the high number of turnovers the team had and a lack of scoring production from the bench. UNH had a total of 14 turnovers in the game, which almost tripled that of Albany’s five turnovers.

“I think we turned the ball over way too much tonight,” senior guard Daniel Dion said, who finished the game with a team-high 18 points. “I know that was a big thing and I had [four] myself. Those turnovers prevented us in transition and hurt us scoring in transition.”

Albany also almost tripled its bench points total with 17 compared to UNH’s lowly six from the bench. This proved to be hurtful to the Wildcats gaining any sort of ground on Albany as the Great Danes’ Travis Charles netted 10 for the game, four more than the entire UNH bench. However, UNH showed signs of turning the game around and that started early in the game.

Halfway through the first half, UNH had a comfortable 15-6 lead over Albany. Dion and junior forward Tanner Leissner looked to as if they would continue their stellar play from the last game at Stony Brook.

Dion had seven points, Leissner had six points and UNH as a team only had one turnover compared to Albany’s three at the time. But Leissner got into early foul trouble, forcing head coach Bill Herrion to sit his star big man for the rest of the half. From there the wheels began to fall off for the ‘Cats. By the time the first half buzzer sounded, UNH was down 29-22 and the team had compiled five more turnovers. Things looked more of the same for the Wildcats once they began the second half.

Albany began to creep up and take advantage of UNH turnovers. The Great Danes increased their lead to 42-30 in the early stages of the second half. However, Wildcats gained new life as they would score seven straight points reduce the deficit to five, 42-37. Shortly after, UNH evened the score at 45-45 with crucial three pointer from sophomore forward David Watkins.

New Hampshire regained momentum. This was in large part from junior forward Iba Camara, who was a force in the paint both offensively and defensively the entire game as he would finish 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Head coach Bill Herrion addresses his team during Monday night’s 69-55 loss to the University at Albany Great Danes.

However, Camara’s contribution would not be enough as two costly turnovers and two momentum changing fouls committed by UNH allowed the Great Danes to score 10 consecutive points for the lead. Albany would not relinquish their lead for the rest of the game, securing a 69-55 win.

“We really try to pride ourselves on defense and right now, they are really letting us down,” Herrion said. “That is on me as a coach. I have not done a good job coaching this team recently.”

The loss marks UNH’s third consecutive defeat which put their season record at 14-10 and 5-5 in America East. The loss also drops UNH down to fifth in the America East standings behind Albany. UNH will travel to Burlington, Vermont as they will face the 21-5 University of Vermont Catamounts on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9 p.m.

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