The New Hampshire Wildcats came into Wednesday afternoon’s home game averaging only 60 points per game, which was good for a tie for 340th in the nation. It was hard to believe that statistic at the beginning of the game against Detroit Mercy, as the Wildcats exploded to an early 21-11 lead in the first seven minutes of the game. The closest the Titans got was within two points at 35-33 with about two and a half minutes left in the first half. New Hampshire then proceeded to end the half on a 9-3 run. Then, the Titans trailed by double digits for most of the second half, as the Wildcats cruised to 86-70 victory. Junior forward Tanner Leissner had a career high 31 points on 9-13 shooting from the field and 12-13 from the free throw line. Senior guard Jaleen Smith added 20 points and had a game-high 11 rebounds. Big 6’9” forward Iba Camara had a solid game with 9 points and 6 rebounds on 3-4 shooting from the field. But it was his defensive presence in the paint that made the Titans settle for a lot of outside shots. This was an important game for the Wildcats (3-2) to bounce back, after an embarrassing 59 point loss at West Virginia three days ago. The Titans pride themselves on having a talented and deep backcourt. But it was the New Hampshire guards that had the upper-hand today, led by the duo of seniors Smith and Daniel Dion.
First year Detroit Mercy head coach Bacari Alexander has made playing good defense a major point for his team. But their defensive struggles continued, as they fall to 1-4. 86 points is the fewest they have given up to a Division 1 opponent this season. They held Division 3 Adrian College to 69 points in their lone win. The Titans also committed way too many fouls compared to only 19 for New Hampshire. Detroit Mercy had 30 fouls called on them, including six in the game’s first three minutes. The Titans came in averaging about 78 points per game, and they certainly did not shoot the ball poorly today at 45.6% from the field. But a huge difference ended up being free throws, as the Titans only got to the line 21 times and converted on 14 of them. On the flipside, the Wildcats made a living from the charity stripe going 27-37. The Wildcats were definitely more aggressive offensively and were smart about drawing fouls, as the Titans were in foul trouble for much of the game. Junior forward Jaleel Hogan had a season-high 18 points on 6-7 shooting for the Titans. He is the only consistent post scorer that the Titans have right now, although Gerald Blackshear was impressive off the bench in limited action with 9 points and 7 rebounds. Sophomore guard Josh McFolley added 13 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds, and was very efficient in driving and finishing at the basket. Wildcat defenders had a tough time staying in front of McFolley because his first two steps with the ball are so quick. The big story for the Titans was how ineffective senior guard Chris Jenkins was, as he shot an uncharacteristic 1-9 from the field. JUCO transfer DeShawndre Black picked up some of the slack by having his first double-digit scoring game as a Titan with 14 points.
The Titans will look to rebound on Saturday afternoon when they host the Manhattan Jaspers (1-3). New Hampshire, who really looks like they have the talent to contend for an America East title, has never made the NCAA Tournament. They travel to play at Winthrop (3-1) on Sunday.