DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will play their first of three straight on the road when it takes on the University of Rhode Island on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 7p.m. at the Ryan Center. The game will be broadcast live on the UNH Sports Network, which is available at www.UNHWildcats.com. The Wildcats and Rams meet for the 105th time in the history of the two programs, with URI leading the all-time series 87-17. URI has had the upper hand recently, however, winning six straight against UNH. The Wildcats’ last win against the Rams came in an 81-72 victory at Lundholm on Dec. 6, 1983. In the most recent matchup last season, URI downed UNH, 87-76, at the Ryan Center on Dec. 1, 2007.
Freshman guard Tyrone Conley scored a career-high 22 points, and senior forward Mike Christensen and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs both scored in double figures, but it was not enough to overcome the hot shooting of the University of Rhode Island and its five double-digit scorers.
The loss evened UNH’s record at 3-3, while the Rams improved to 8-1.
Christensen posted 18 points and added five rebounds and four assists, while Gibbs netted 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first five points of the game and then using a 10-4 run to craft the biggest lead they would have in the game at 18-7 with 15:02 remaining in the first half.
The Rams cooled off the hot shooting of the Wildcats, and caught some fire of their own, scoring 15 unanswered points as part of a 34-6 run that gave them a 41-24 lead with 4:29 left in the half.
The ‘Cats, who went into the locker room down 49-28, turned the ball over 13 times in the first half, as compared to only four giveaways in the second stanza.
The Rams, who outshot UNH 55 percent (30-55) to 43 percent (28-66) from the floor, grabbed their largest lead at 62-38 with 13:35 remaining in the game, but the Wildcats slowly began to chip away when they scored seven straight points.
Led by the hot shooting of Christensen, who was 6-for-6 from the floor in the second half, including 3-for-3 from behind the arc, the Wildcats climbed back into the game. The ‘Cats got as close as 83-73 with 2:29 left, but it was too little, too late, as the clock ran out on UNH, who outscored URI, 48-38 in the second half.
Junior guard Eric Gilchrese added a career-high seven assists in the loss.
The Rams were led by Joe Mbang, Will Daniels, Kahiem Seawright, Parfait Bitee and Jimmy Baron, who had 23, 14, 13, 13, and 12 points, respectively. Seawright recorded a double-double by pulling down 10 boards, while Daniels recorded eight rebounds and Bitee tallied seven assists.
UNH, which only got to the free throw line 10 times in the entire game, did manage to shoot 52 percent from 3-point land (14-27).
LAST TIME OUT
Guards Tyrece Gibbs, Tyrone Conley and Alvin Abreu all scored in double digits as UNH pulled out a huge 64-61 win versus Brown University on Dec. 6 at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats’ second straight win evened their record at 3-3, while the Bears dropped their second in a row and fall to 3-5. The win snapped Brown’s four-game winning steak versus the ‘Cats and was UNH’s first win against the Bears since a 77-71 triumph Nov. 14, 1998 at Lundholm.
Gibbs, the America East Player of the game, paced UNH with 19 points, two rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. Conley, who matched his career high with four 3-pointers, poured in 16 to go along with five rebounds and two assists, while Abreu tallied 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
With the score tied at 54 with just under five minutes to play, Gibbs drilled the last of his five 3-pointers on the day to give the Wildcats their first lead since their 3-2 edge just 23 seconds into the game. A pair of Brown free throws cut the UNH lead to one before Gibbs’ no-look pass found a wide open Radar Onguetou, whose layup put the Wildcats up 59-56 with 4:07 to play.
Another pair of Brown free throws cut its deficit to one, but it was Onguetou again, this time drilling his second 3 of the game to give UNH a 62-58 lead with 1:36 on the clock. The Wildcats then traded a Brown jumper for a pair of Abreu free throws to make it 64-60 before the Bears hit another one from the line to make it a one-possession game with 36 ticks left. Peter Sullivan’s 3-point try with four seconds left missed its mark and was pulled down by Abreu to wrap up the win for the ‘Cats.
Onguetou played his best game of the season, scoring nine points, pulling down eight rebounds and handing out three assists. The junior forward was 3 of 4 from the floor, including a pair of treys, which matched a career high he set one game earlier at Colgate on Dec. 3.
Leading 33-27 coming out of the locker room, Brown scored the first five points of the second half to push their lead to 11. The Bears were up 42-32 with 15:32 to go when they scored four straight to push their lead to 14. UNH answered with an 11-0 run that featured three Conley trifectas to cut Brown’s lead to 46-43 with 10:43 remaining.
Brown scored three straight before both teams traded buckets to make 51-45 with 8:16 left. Back-to-back treys by Gibbs and Onguetou knotted the score at 51 just 1:02 later. A Matt Mullery 3-pointer put Brown up 54-51 with 6:22 to go before the Wildcats ripped off an 11-4 run that led them to victory. The ‘Cats held Brown without a field goal for 5:10 during that span and then again for the final 1:12 of the game.
Brown opened the game on an 8-3 run before a pair of Abreu treys brought UNH to within 10-9. With 14:51 left in the first half, Gibbs knocked down a 3 to tie the game at 12, but a 14-4 run by the Bears gave them a 26-16 lead with 7:49 to play before the half. Back-to-back 3s by Gibbs and Abreu cut the UNH deficit to four 1:14 later, but Brown scored five straight to increase its lead back to nine with 3:32 left. Both teams traded buckets before Gibbs closed the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer that cut Brown’s lead to 33-27.
Freshman forward Brian Benson played a career-high 23 minutes, recording two points and an assist, but playing great defensively with four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Freshman guard Russell Graham started his second straight game at the point guard spot and gave UNH some good minutes, tallying two points, two rebounds, three assists and a steal.
The Wildcats, who outrebounded a big, physical Brown team, 36-24, shot 40 percent (23-57) from the floor, including 41 percent (14-34) from behind the arc. Brown shot 49 percent (21-43) from the field and 39 percent (5-13) from long range.
Mullery led the Bears with 15 points, while Scott Friske and Sullivan recorded 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Rhode Island is the highest RPI-ranked team the Wildcats have played this season at 37th. The Rams have also played some opponents that are on UNH’s schedule, including Penn State (W 77-72), Brown (W 76-74) and Hartford (W 94-72). The Wildcats, who are ranked 197th out of 343 teams in the rankings, a big improvement thus far over last year’s finish of 300 out of 341, lost to Penn State, 70-50, beat Brown, 64-61, and will meet Hartford twice in conference play.
'CATS "BEAR" DOWN AGAINST BROWN
UNH’s 64-61 win versus Brown on Dec. 6 was the Wildcats’ first win in five tries against the Bears. UNH’s most recent win before that came in a 77-71 victory at Lundholm on Nov. 14, 1998.
NEW 3-POINT THREAT FOR WILDCATS?
Radar Onguetou might be spending a little too much time with Tyrece Gibbs and the rest of the Wildcats’ dangerous perimeter shooters. After sinking a total of three 3-pointers in his career, Onguetou has knocked down a career-high two in each of the Wildcats’ past two games. The powerful forward was 2-for-4 from behind the arc Dec. 3 at Colgate and 2-for-3 Dec. 6 versus Brown. Onguetou was hitting them in the clutch as well, tying the game at 51 with 7:18 to go against Brown and then giving UNH a 62-58 lead with 1:36 left.
BENCHWARMER? ABREU HEATING UP OFF THE PINE
In UNH’s first two games this season, Alvin Abreu was in the starting lineup and averaged 9.5 points per game. Since then, head coach Bill Herrion made the decision to bring Abreu off the bench and it has paid off. Abreu has averaged 13.0 points per game, including 16.0 per game in his last three contests.
Tyrece Gibbs, who set a career high with seven straight double-digit scoring games from Feb. 20, 2008-Nov. 29, 2008, has now scored in double figures in nine of his last 10 games dating back to last season, including five of six this season.
UNH is ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a handful of categories. The Wildcats are 14th in 3-point field goals per game (9.8), 17th in turnovers per game (11.5), 76th in turnover margin (+2.7), 84th in scoring defense (63.0 ppg) and 97th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.04). Individually, Tyrece Gibbs is 41st in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (46.2) and 55th in 3-point field goals per game (3.0).
TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS
Heading into today’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 499 consecutive games, a streak that spans 17 years. The last time the ‘Cats did not tally a trey was in a 59-47 loss to Dartmouth College on Jan. 8, 1991, when they were 0-for-3 from behind the arc. The NCAA record is currently 677 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.
Tyrece Gibbs is penciling his name in all over UNH’s record books. Last season, Gibbs drained 83 3-pointers, which is the second most in a single UNH season and just four off the record. Gibbs also registered the third most 3-point attempts (204) in a season and played the third most minutes (1,038) in a season. The guard is currently fourth all-time on UNH’s 3-pointers made list (164), fifth in 3-point attempts (410) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (.400). Gibbs, who is 25 points shy of 1,000 for his career, is also close to moving into the top 10 in field goals made, field goals attempted, assists, blocks, games played and total minutes.
BREAKING THE ICE
Not only was UNH’s win against Colgate on Dec. 3 its first victory versus a Division I team this season, but it also marked a first in numerous other categories, including its first win on the road, in December, on a Wednesday, in a night game, against a team under .500, when its opponent scores first, in a game decided by less than six points, when outscored in the paint and off the bench, when outrebounded and when committing more turnovers than its opponent.
JUST BE YOURSELF
In their win against Colgate on Dec. 3, the Wildcats finally looked like the same team from last year that was seventh in the country in 3-pointers per game (9.5) and 81st in 3-point field goal percentage (37.2). The ‘Cats shot 50 percent (12-24) from behind the arc against Colgate and were shooting it so well in the first half that seven of their eight field goals in that frame were 3s.
DOING A LOT WITH A LITTLE
Although Rony Tchatchoua only recorded one point and four rebounds in UNH’s win at Colgate on Dec. 3, he may have had the biggest point and rebound of the game. With the Wildcats up by two with 13 seconds remaining, Colgate’s Mike Venezia took a 3-pointer to try and put his team in front, but he missed and Tchatchoua ripped down the rebound in a sea of Colgate players. Tchatchoua then went to the line and hit one of two to force Colgate to drain a 3 just to tie. Venezia’s attempt went long as time expired, making Tchatchoua’s effort stand up.
Alvin Abreu broke out for the first time this season Nov. 29 at Marist, scoring a UNH season-high 22 points – one shy of his career high – on 7 of 14 shooting. Abreu, who netted 17 of his points in the second half to lead the UNH comeback, hit a career-high seven free throws and was 6 of 7 from the stripe down the stretch.
Although they wound up losing to Marist, 63-61, Nov. 29, the Wildcats fought hard the final 12 minutes to claw their way back into the game. UNH trailed by 19 – 54-35 – with 12:21 to play, but ripped off a 17-2 run to pull within 56-52 with 4:24 on the clock. Eight points from Alvin Abreu, six from Dane DiLiegro and a 3-pointer from Russell Graham, combined with stifling defense that held Marist without a bucket for 8:51, powered the run. An Abreu trey with four seconds left put the Wildcats down 62-61, but that was close as they would get.
TACKLING THE TOP COMPETITION
Head coach Bill Herrion is not afraid to take on some of the toughest competition in the country. Since his arrival in Durham prior to the 2005-06 season, the Wildcats have taken on Big East foes UConn, Providence and Rutgers, as well as ACC power Boston College on two occassions. This season, UNH continues down that road with matchups against Big Ten member Penn State and Atlantic 10 foes Rhode Island and Fordham. The Wildcats also faced URI last season when the A10 was ranked the seventh-best conference in the nation; the Big Ten was sixth.
UNH held the lead against Penn State for the greatest length of time of any of the Nittany Lions’ first four opponents of the season. The Wildcats led for 12:25 in their game with PSU, which won all four games. UNH’s America East-foe Hartford held the advantage for just 1:18, NJIT led for 26 seconds and William & Mary never led in their contest.
MAKE THE MOST WITH WHAT YOU'RE GIVEN
Abby Kabba received his first dose of major playing time against Penn State on Nov. 23 as he played a career-high 26 minutes. Kabba made the most of the playing time as he ripped down a team- and career-high seven rebounds, while also chipping in offensively with two points. Kabba then added a career-high five points Nov. 29 at Marist. In the two games prior, Kabba had solid production for the time he played as he notched seven points and five rebounds in 14 minutes of action.
A CON-UNDRUM FOR OPPOSING DEFENSES
Tyrone Conley, who is currently second on the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game, picked up where he left off last season. Conley scored in double figures in the final four games of the regular season in 2007-08 before netting nine points in the quarterfinal matchup with Hartford in the conference tournament. The sophomore guard netted double digits in two of the first three games this season, including 21 versus Harvard on Nov. 19, giving him at least 10 points in six of seven games.
CONLEY HAS HIS OWN NUMBER
Tyrone Conley scored 21 points versus Harvard on Nov. 19, matching his jersey number. The 21 points tied the season high for a Wildcat this year, and was one point shy of Conley’s personal best.
HITTING THE CENTURY MARK
In their 101-50 win versus Suffolk on Nov. 16, the Wildcats won their second straight home-opener by scoring 100 points for the first time since a 106-103 win at Maine in four overtimes Jan. 19, 1996. The last time UNH compiled at least 100 points in regulation was Nov. 27, 1994 in a 104-97 win at Hofstra. The most recent time a Lundholm crowd witnessed a 100-point game from the Wildcats was in a 113-111 overtime win against Delaware on Feb. 26, 1995. The last time the Wildcats scored 100 points in regulation at Lundholm? You would have to go back to Dec. 29, 1983 in a 102-82 win over Fairfield. The 51-point margin of victory is also the largest for the ‘Cats since the 1941-42 season – and possibly ever. Records prior to that season are incomplete. UNH set the previous mark last season in a 95-46 win versus Suffolk.
GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
The Wildcats won their first season-opener since the 2004-05 season when they beat Suffolk, 101-50, to open up the 2008-09 campaign Nov. 16. It was UNH’s second straight home-opening win.
ABREU ONE OF TOP FRESHMEN LAST SEASON
At the end of last season, Alvin Abreu was named a CollegeHoops.net Honorable Mention Mid-Major All-Freshman. Abreu, who was a three-time America East Rookie of the Week during the season (Dec. 10, Jan. 7, Feb. 25), was also named to the America East All-Rookie Team before the start of the tournament.
Abreu, who was one of just two freshman, and four players overall, to play in all 29 games for the Wildcats, led all America East rookies and was second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg). He also led the team in free throw percentage (.818), was second in 3-pointers made (62) and was fourth in rebounding (3.8 rpg) and assists (1.8 apg). The 62 treys are tied for the eighth most in a single season at UNH, while the free throw percentage of 81.8 is the 10th-best single-season mark in school history.
THREE FOR ALL
Tyrece Gibbs, Alvin Abreu and Tyrone Conley all took home conference hardware at the annual America East banquet last season. Gibbs was named to the America East All-Conference Third Team, while Abreu and Conley were chosen for the All-Rookie Team. UNH was the only team with two of its players to garner spots on the five-member All-Rookie Team.
BENSON'S FAMOUS TEAMMATE
Brian Benson was on the court as a sophomore at Greece-Althena High School when team manager Jason “J-Mac” McElwain, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age, knocked down six 3-pointers in their division title game versus Spencerport on Feb. 16, 2006. The story quickly made national headlines, while McElwain turned into a celebrity overnight. McElwain met President Bush and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and also appeared on various talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and Today. McElwain even won an ESPY Award for the Best Moment in Sports in 2006.
DILIEGRO TO REPRESENT COUNTRY, RELIGION
In September, Dane DiLiegro was named one of 12 members of the United States men’s basketball team that will compete at the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel from July 12-23, 2009. The announcement was made by the head coach of the U.S. men’s basketball Maccabiah team, Bruce Pearl, who is also the men’s basketball head coach at the University of Tennessee.
The Maccabiah Games, also referred to as the “Jewish Olympics,” are held in Israel every four years and include the top Jewish athletes from around the world. The 17th games in 2005 attracted the largest Maccabiah attendance in history. With over 50 countries represented by 7,700 athletes, including 900 from the U.S., the Maccabiah Games became the third largest sporting event in the world. This year, the U.S. is looking to take over 1,000 athletes, including Olympic athletes such as swimmers Dara Torres and Jason Lezak.
DiLiegro becomes the sixth UNH athlete to participate in the Maccabiah Games, including the first basketball player.
DiLiegro joins Duke’s Jon Scheyer and Arizona State’s Derek Glasser on the team, which won gold in 2001 and bronze at the previous Games in 2005. By making the U.S. squad, DiLiegro joins some elite company, including Dolph Schayes, one of the 50 Greatest NBA players of all-time, Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Brown, and Mark Spitz, who won a then-record seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, an achievement surpassed only when Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal of the 2008 Olympics.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
The Wildcats welcome in five newcomers this season, including a pair who have been around the program before this year. Junior Colbey Santos is eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer from James Madison University. The 6-foot-5-inch Santos will provide another athletic body and a deadly shooting ability to aid the Wildcats’ offensive attack. Freshman Ryan Herrion, the son of head coach Bill Herrion, played at Dover (N.H.) High School where he averaged 25.0 points and 5.0 assists per game last season en route to being named the Foster’s Daily Democrat Dream Team Player of the Year. Herrion, a 6-0, 165-pound walk-on, will add depth on the perimeter for the Wildcats.
Freshmen Russell Graham, a 6-0, 185-pound guard, also joins the Wildcat back court. Graham is a tough, heady point guard and a solid defender who comes from a very successful high school program. Graham played at Norristown (Pa.) High School, where he averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his career. The Eagles finished 32-2 last season after an undefeated regular season in which Graham was named League Player of the Year, Times Herald Co-Player of the Year and First Team All-Area.
The Wildcats also add Abby Kabba and Brian Benson to the mix in the front court. Kabba, a 6-6, 210-pound junior, is a quick, jack-of-all-trades type player; a good rebounder and solid defender. Kabba played his first two seasons at Northern Oklahoma, a junior college, where he averaged 6.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season. The 6-8, 190-pound Benson played at Greece-Althena High School, where he holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a season. Benson, a long and athletic freshman who is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, averaged 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season en route to being named Monroe County Division II Player of the Year and an All-Greater Rochester First Team member.
University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion enters his fourth season at the helm with what is the most quality depth the program has possessed during his tenure. With eight letterwinners – including four starters – returning, combined with five impact newcomers, the Wildcats should be much improved and in contention for their first America East title.
Despite losing 1,000-point scorer Mike Christensen and hard-working walk-on Shawn Tobey, the Wildcats bring back nearly their entire roster, led by senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) and junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon). Gibbs was a workhorse for the Wildcats last season, playing in all 29 games while averaging a team-best 35.8 minutes per contest. The America East All-Conference Third Team honoree did it all in 2007-08, leading the squad in scoring (14.4 ppg), 3-point field goal percentage (.407), assists (3.1 apg) and blocks (0.62 bpg). Onguetou returns at full strength this season after being limited to just four games last year due to a knee injury. A naturally gifted rebounder who averaged nearly five boards per game in the four contests he appeared in, Onguetou will bring much-needed leadership and toughness back into the Wildcat frontcourt.
Gibbs will be joined in the backcourt by fellow senior Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.). Last season – his first with the Wildcats – the point guard poured in 10.2 points per game while leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.48) and steals (1.54 spg). Gilchrese showed his toughness as well, playing 28-of-29 games despite dealing with an injury down the stretch. Also returning are sophomore guards and 2008 America East All-Rookie Team members Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) and Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.). Abreu, who was also selected as a CollegeHoops.net Honorable Mention Mid-Major All-Freshman, led all America East rookies and was second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg). Abreu played in all 29 contests while splitting time between the one- and two-guard spots for the Wildcats. Conley showed off his athleticism and leaping ability while averaging 8.8 points per game last season. Conley appeared in 27 games despite battling illness for nearly a month. The Wildcats also have 6-foot-5-inch Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer from James Madison University. Santos will provide another athletic body and a deadly shooting ability to aid the Wildcats’ offensive attack. The program also welcomes two other newcomers into the backcourt in freshmen Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) and Ryan Herrion (Dover, N.H.). The 6-0, 185-pound Graham is a tough, heady point guard and a solid defender who comes from a very successful high school program. Graham played at Norristown (Pa.) High School, where he averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his career. The Eagles finished 32-2 last season after an undefeated regular season in which Graham was named League Player of the Year, Times Herald Co-Player of the Year and First Team All-Area. Herrion, the son of head coach Bill Herrion, played at Dover (N.H.) High School where he averaged 25.0 points and 5.0 assists per game last season en route to being named the Foster’s Daily Democrat Dream Team Player of the Year. Herrion, a 6-0, 165-pound walk-on, will add depth on the perimeter for the Wildcats.
The UNH frontcourt will once again be anchored in the middle by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.). DiLiegro played in all 29 contests last season, while leading all America East rookies and the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg). The big man recorded six double-digit rebound games, including his first career double-double. Sophomores Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) and James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) also return to provide big bodies and quality depth in the frontcourt. Tchatchoua played in 23 games while averaging 4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game off the bench. Valladares, who added muscle and improved his game during the offseason, saw action in 26 games, providing a valuable 9.6 minutes per game off the bench while backing up DiLiegro at center. The Wildcats also add newcomers Abby Kabba (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) to the mix. Kabba, a 6-6, 210-pound junior, is a quick, jack-of-all-trades type player; a good rebounder and solid defender. Kabba played his first two seasons at Northern Oklahoma, a junior college, where he averaged 6.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season. The 6-9, 205-pound Benson played at Greece-Althena High School, where he holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a season. Benson, a long and athletic freshman who is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, averaged 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season en route to being named Monroe County Division II Player of the Year and an All-Greater Rochester First Team member.
With greater depth, a solid nucleus and a group of talented athletes, the 2008-09 Wildcats should be in the mix for the America East title.