Rutgers defeats New Hampshire 60-56
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Coming off a loss in which it was dominated by Seton Hall, Rutgers had just one goal in mind against New Hampshire: The Scarlet Knights had to win at all costs, regardless of how it looked.
''No matter how we won, as long as we won, that's all that really matters for us right now,'' said Myles Mack, whose 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists led Rutgers to a 60-56 win over the Wildcats Tuesday night.
Kadeem Jack added eight points and 10 rebounds, while Greg Lewis and Mike Williams had eight points each for the Scarlet Knights (5-4).
New Hampshire (5-3), which had its four-game winning streak snapped, got 15 points from Tanner Leissner and 13 from Daniel Dion. Jaleen Smith added eight points and nine rebounds as the Wildcats pushed Rutgers to the limit after its 27-point loss to the Pirates Saturday.
''We were angry, we didn't think that was supposed to happen,'' Mack said. ''We had to move on to this game and this win helped us a lot.''
It did not come easy, as Rutgers shot just 40.4 percent for the game and 20.8 percent in the second half after missing 16 of its first 17 shots after the break. That allowed New Hampshire to battle from a nine-point deficit, its largest of the game, to a 42-41 lead after a 10-0 run.
Walk-on guard Khalil Batie gave the Knights a huge boost by hitting a 3-pointer for a 44-42 lead.
''I felt like, OK, we got one basket in, now somehow we can get some more baskets, and it took the lid off the rim,'' said Batie, who had two 3-pointers in the game. ''It still took us a little while to get going but shots started falling and the momentum eventually swung our way.''
New Hampshire regained the lead at 48-44 and the game was tied 52-52 before Mack made two foul shots to put Rutgers ahead for good with 2:31 remaining. Mack followed with a three-point play to make it 57-52 with 34.2 seconds left.
''(Mack) does so many things for us,'' Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. ''He keeps us organized, he scores when we need him, he makes free throws; he played his butt off.''
Joe Bramanti hit a driving lay-up to pull New Hampshire within 57-54 before Jack made one free throw and Lewis added two to give the Knights a 60-54 lead with 9.3 seconds remaining.
New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion, who was upset with his team's defensive play in the first half after Rutgers shot 57.1 percent, felt Mack was the difference maker.
''Myles Mack was terrific,'' Herrion said. ''He kind of took the game over. We didn't have a lot of answers. He played like a senior, played like an All-Conference guy. He's been there, done that.''
Rutgers: Guard Bishop Daniels missed his fourth straight game with a sprained ankle. Daniels will practice Thursday to see how he's healing. The Knights improved to 4-0 against New Hampshire in a series that started in 1979. Rutgers entered the game ranked No. 33 in the nation in strength of schedule, which was second in the Big 10 to Wisconsin (31). Rutgers played its first home game in two weeks after playing four straight away contests.
New Hampshire: The Wildcats entered the game 24th nationally in scoring defense (56.9) and 25th in free throw percentage (75.0). UNH got 14 points from its bench after getting 45 points from the reserves in a 96-45 win over Wheelock Saturday.
Herrion feels despite Rutgers early struggles, Jordan has the Knights headed the right way, saying ''Eddie is a class guy and he is doing a great job with this team. They are only going to get better. When you take something over, especially when you are jumping leagues, it is going to take time. He is definitely putting their program in the right direction.''
Rutgers plays Manhattan Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
New Hampshire hosts Colgate on Sunday.