Tuesday night at 7:00 ET, WMU hosts New Hampshire, the 6-5 America East Conference team from Durham, NH. The Wildcats are coming off a 73-72 overtime loss to the Long Island University-Brooklyn Blackbirds. The Broncos beat Alabama A&M 71-62 on December 22 and before that dropped one in Evanston 67-61 to Northwestern.
New Hampshire's leading scorer is Tanner Leissner, a 6-foot-6, 210 pound freshman forward. Leissner is scoring 12.5 points per game and is gathering a team-best 6.5 rebounds per game. Six-foot, 175 pound sophomore guard Daniel Dion and 6-foot-4, 195 pound sophomore guard Jaleen Smith are recording 11.6 and 11.1 points per game respectively - good for second and third best scorers.
Both, though, are shooting only 37.7% from the field (weird, right?). Suffocating defense from Western's starting guards David Brown and Austin Richie will keep their Wildcat counterparts at a similar shooting percentage. Limit their shots and you don't allow them the time to score 11-ish per game.
In New Hampshire's last outing, 6-foot-7, 230 pound sophomore forward Jacoby Armstrong came off the bench and provided a team-best 18 points. Armstrong is still only averaging 7 points per game on the year, but the Broncos have to look out for someone who may be beginning a hot streak.
Forward Connar Tava remains the leading offensive weapon for Western with 16 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 3.9 assists per game. Brown is second for the Broncos is scoring, with 13.8 points per game. Against Alabama A&M, both Tava and Brown scored 20.
A major issue in the WMU loss to Northwestern was shooting only 13 of 23 from the foul line. Against Alabama A&M, the Broncos improved dramatically to 20 of 26. I don't think head coach Steve Hawkins will allow any regression in this area. Based on the impressive Brown-Tava score-fest seen last week, I think the Bronco offense controls this one. Final: WMU 72, New Hampshire 65.
And just because I feel like there is zero animosity between these two schools and because it's kind of an unassuming state, here are three reasons for Western fans to start hating University of New Hampshire athletics and the state New Hampshire itself:
1) The world should be collectively upset they didn't keep the creepy old mascot they used to have.
2) New Hampshire calls itself the Granite State, which is super fucking boring since granite is literally the most common igneous rock on the Earth's surface. Yeah, yeah they mine it there a lot, but it's still not flippin' special.
3) This portion of an article on their athletics website had nothing to do with felines despite the header.
So try to work those into your cheers at University Arena if you can.