DURHAM, N.H. – Senior guards Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) and Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) scored 21 and 18 points, respectively, to lead the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team to a 101-50 victory over Suffolk University in its season-opener on Sunday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The 1-0 Wildcats win 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.
Gilchrese, the America East Player of the Game, netted his points on 7 of 10 shooting, including a career-high six 3-pointers. The point guard also added four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Gibbs was 7 of 11 from the field and tallied three rebounds and two assists.
UNH led from the start, scoring 22 straight points to open the game before Suffolk hit its first basket with 11:46 to go in the half. The Rams then went on an 11-3 run to cut their deficit to 14 at 27-13 at the 8:27 mark. The Wildcats came right back with a 12-3 run of their own to close the first-half scoring and take a 50-27 lead into the break.
The Wildcats picked up where they left off in the second half, using a 17-2 run to go on top 67-31 with 13:55 left in the frame. Another 11-3 run brought the score to 89-43 with 6:05 remaining. UNH was up 98-50 with 13 seconds left when freshman guard Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) found fellow freshman guard Ryan Herrion (Dover, N.H.) wide open in the corner. Herrion knocked down the 3 to put the Wildcats over the 100-point mark and send the crowd into a frenzy.
Sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) scored 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting, including a put-back dunk off a Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) miss, which set the tone early for the Wildcats. DiLiegro filled the stat line with six rebounds, two blocks, two steals and an assist. Conley also tallied 11 points with a pair of ferocious slams and added three steals. Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) also submitted a solid stat line with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) looked good in his first game in nearly a year, tallying five points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.
UNH’s bench, which outscored Suffolk’s, 47-14, also looked good in the opener. Sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) scored four points to go along with three rebounds, a block and a steal. Sophomore center James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) recorded two points, six rebounds, two assists and a block, while junior guard Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) chipped in with two points, two rebounds and an assist.
The newcomers also had a nice showing in their first games at the Division I level, with Graham leading the way with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Herrion scored six points on a pair of treys, junior Abby Kabba (Oklahoma City, Okla.) tallied three points, three boards and a block, and freshman forward Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) scored one point to go along with four rebounds and a block.
Mario Massimino was the high scorer for Suffolk with 16 points, while Allan Ray scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
The Wildcats outshot Suffolk 55 percent (38-69) to 28 percent (17-61). The ‘Cats also held advantages in points in the paint (40-4), points off turnovers (27-6), second-chance points (13-2) and fast break points (12-0).
The ‘Cats return to action Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. when they play host to Harvard University at Lundholm.