– Senior Mike Christensen (Reston, Va.) scored 24 points and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) added 19 to lead the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team to Thursday night’s 68-65 win over the University of Vermont in the team’s regular season finale on Senior Day in front of a season-high 1,853 fans at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The win, which snaps an eight-game losing streak against Vermont, closes out the Wildcats’ regular season record at 9-19, including 6-10 in America East. The Catamounts drop to 14-14 overall and 8-7 in the conference. The win marks the first for the Wildcats against Vermont since a 78-57 victory Feb. 21, 2004 at Lundholm.
Tyrece Gibbs

Christensen finishes up his regular season Wildcat career on a high note, filling the stat line with four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. His 24 points came on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Gibbs also filled the stat line, tallying three rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal.
Trailing by seven (46-39) midway through the second half, the Wildcats went on a 14-1 run, using a nifty layup from Gibbs, who was hammered on the play, to take a 48-47 lead with 8:06 left in regulation. The lead was UNH’s first since its 23-22 advantage with 5:03 remaining in the opening frame. The ‘Cats pushed their lead to six before a layup and a 3-pointer by Mike Trimboli cut the deficit to 53-52 with 3:58 left.
As they have all year, the Wildcats refused to quit, getting a huge 3 from freshman guard Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) that put them up 58-52 with 2:45 left. A dunk by freshman center James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) looked to seal the win when it gave UNH a 66-60 lead with 23 seconds left, but after Marqus Blakely made two from the line, and Valladares converted on 1-of-2, a Colin McIntosh trey cut UNH’s advantage to 67-65 with three seconds left. Christensen made 1-of-2 at the stripe, giving the Catamounts a chance to tie the game, but their long inbound attempt was picked off by freshman guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) as time expired. Conley scored 10 points and added three steals, while Abreu tallied nine points, seven rebounds, five steals and two assists in 39 minutes.
UNH led 15-9 to begin the game before Vermont reeled off a 12-2 run to grab a 21-17 lead with 9:26 left in the first half. Back-to-back 3s by Christensen, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, and Conley put the Wildcats up by two with 6:55 left. The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half, with the Catamounts taking a 32-29 lead at the break.   

Freshman center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) pulled down seven rebounds, while Valladares gave the ‘Cats great minutes off the bench, tallying three points, three rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes.
Blakely and Trimboli led four Vermont scorers in double-digits with 16 points apiece. Blakely, who finished with eight rebounds, saw his streak of 10 straight double-doubles halted by the Wildcats. Timothy McCrory, the Catamounts’ America East Player of the Game, recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds.
UNH played what is maybe its best game of the year, shooting 40 percent from the floor (21-52), 50 percent from long range (10-20) and 80 percent from the line (16-20), while turning the ball over just nine times. The win is UNH’s first in its nine games that have been decided by five points or less this season.
This marks the final regular season game for both Christensen and senior forward Shawn Tobey (Eliot, Maine). Tobey, who started just the second game of his career, played 11 minutes and finished with three points, all of which came on the first 3-pointer of his career that put the Wildcats up 9-7 just five minutes in.
The Wildcats will return to action Saturday, March 8 in the quarterfinal round of the America East tournament, which is being held at Binghamton University. The ‘Cats have locked up the No. 7 seed and will take on the No. 2 seed. With the other eight teams in the conference playing their final regular season games on Sunday, March 2, the University of Hartford, Boston University and the University at Albany are all tied for second at 9-6. Hartford can win the second spot outright with a win against UMBC.
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