WILD CATS 67, BLUE DEVILS 45
DURHAM, NH – The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (4-2, 0-0) continued in the winning column on Saturday night with a 67-45 win over the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (CCSU) (2- 7, 0-0). It’s an unlikely pair of players who got the job done for New Hampshire in this one. Big senior man Tayler Mattos got UNH off the ground early. But it was career-high second-year point guard Blondeau Tchoukuiegno’s 20 points that really put the Blue Devils to sleep on a night CCSU played against UNH tighter than the scoreboard could have read.
Apart from a 17-2 run late in the first half and a handful of Tchoukuiegno buckets late in the second half, New Hampshire struggled to find an attacking pace for most of the time. of the night. Head coach Bill Herrion and Tchoukuiegno both mentioned how well planned the CCSU game was for their star elders Jayden Martinez and Nick Guadarrama.
“They kind of surprised us because they were jostling each other in the post, and they were teaming double or triple Jayden [Martinez] most of the time, ”explained Tchoukuiegno. “We have to get used to it and play with it because Jayden and Nick [Guadarrama] are going to get a lot of attention all year round, so we have to adapt and play through that.
Tchoukuiengo was finally able to adjust to the Blue Devils’ defense, noting that the amount of attention Martinez and Guadarrama attracted helps the rest of the squad have an open look.
Tchoukuiegno finished the night with a career-high 20 points on 7 of 11 shots including 3 of 6 on the 3-point line. He also added four rebounds, five assists and three steals to his line.
Eleven of the team’s last 13 points came from the point guard. He held the Lundholm Gymnasium in the palm of his hand at the end of the night and handed CCSU its seventh loss before the conference even started.
The three-point shooting was something Tchoukuiegno said he had strived to improve in the offseason to expand his game instead of just being a host. Herrion was impressed with his improved attacking play at this point.
“As a head coach you can probably count on one or two hands the number of players that you coach in your career that really understand,” Herrion said. “Every day he comes to the gym and he plays like [he did on Saturday]. I don’t have to push him, to motivate him, he just brings it every day. He is so coachable. He’s just awesome.
The Wildcats have proven their scoring depth in the starting lineup in six games. Tchoukuiegno’s long distance partner sophomore Nick Johnson added 13 points and six rebounds from the box while Martinez notched his third double-double of the year with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Where Herrion is always looking for more production is from its second unit. The New Hampshire bench scored three combined points on Saturday; Only graduate student Josh Hopkins found the back of the net. The group was 1 to 14 in the field.
Two players in particular who have been chilling in the last three games are junior transfer Sloan Seymour and senior goaltender Qon Murphy. Seymour is 0 for 9 in the field during that time, shooting just 22% of the 3-point range over the year – an area in which he was considered an expert. Murphy hasn’t been so quiet but compared to his first three games of the season when averaging 11.7 points, he’s seen his production drop a bit. Murphy has scored 2.7 per game in that final three-game streak.
New Hampshire will have their fifth win of the season in mind when they travel to Bryant (3-6, 0-0) on Wednesday for a meeting with the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. from the Chace Athletic Center.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Yourell