MEN'S BASKETBALL GOES FOR SWEEP OF ALBANY ON COMCAST SPORTSNET

COMPLETE NOTES | LIVE STATS | LIVE AUDIO | LIVE VIDEO

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will try for the season sweep of the University at Albany on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Lundholm Gymnasium. The contest will be aired live on Comcast SportsNet and also broadcast live on the UNH Sports Network, with the link available at www.UNHWildcats.com. The Wildcats and Great Danes meet for the 19th time in their relatively young conference rivalry, with Albany leading the all-time series, 11-7. The series has shifted control over the years, with UNH having won two of the last three meetings after Albany had won four in a row. Prior to that run, UNH had won four of six after the Great Danes had been victorious in four of the first five. The Wildcats have won two of the last three at home against Albany, but the Great Danes have protected their home court as well, winning three of the last five at SEFCU Arena. In the most recent meeting Feb. 15, UNH handed Albany its largest loss ever at SEFCU, 78-59.

Sophomore guards Alvin Abreu and Tyrone Conley and senior guard Tyrece Gibbs scored 19, 17 and 16 points, respectively, to lead the Wildcats.    

The Wildcats, winners in three of their last four road games, picked up their second win of the season against an above-.500 team and improved to 10-14 on the season, including 5-7 in America East play, while the Great Danes fell to 13-13 overall and 5-8 in the conference. The ‘Cats surpassed their win total from last season and posted their third double-digit win season in the past four years under head coach Bill Herrion, marking just the fourth time in school history that has happened. The last time UNH attained the feat was from 1982-83 to 1985-86 when the program put together three 10-win seasons in four years under legendary head coach Gerry Friel.

Abreu scored his points on 5 of 7 shooting, including 2 of 4 from behind the arc. Abreu, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, was also a perfect 7-for-7 from the line to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. Conley was 5-for-8 from the floor, including 4-for-6 from 3, while Gibbs was 5 of 7 from deep and added three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 36 minutes.

UNH led from the start to record its first wire-to-wire win of the year over a Division I opponent. The Wildcats hit their first four field goals and first two free throws to build a 12-1 just 2:54 in. Abreu and Conley bookended the run with 3-pointers. Albany sliced its deficit to seven at 16-9 with 12:25 remaining in the first half, but a 3-pointer by Gibbs sparked an 8-2 run that pushed the lead up to 24-11 at 10:30.

The Great Danes climbed back to within six at 26-20 with just over five minutes to play in the half, but a 9-0 run – capped by a Conley trifecta – opened the UNH lead up to 35-20 with 2:14 to go. After a layup by Will Harris, another Gibbs 3 and a jumper by sophomore center James Valladares helped the Wildcats close the half on a 5-2 run and take a 40-24 lead into the locker room. The ‘Cats improved to 7-1 when leading at the break. Gibbs netted 12 first-half points on 4 of 5 shooting from behind the arc.

The two teams spent the first five minutes of the second frame going back and forth, with Albany closing to 45-31 at 14:59. Conley then knocked down 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to make it 51-33 at 13:57. An 8-2 Albany run would slice UNH’s lead to 53-41 at 10:32, but the Wildcats would respond with an 8-1 run of their own – capped with an Abreu trey – to grab their biggest lead of the game at 61-42 with 9:13 remaining.

After three straight points from Albany, Abreu converted an old fashioned three-point play to push the lead back to 19 at 17:57. A 6-1 Albany run – capped by a Harris jumper – cut UNH’s lead to 14 at 65-51 with 7:07 to go, but that was the closest the Great Danes would get as Conley capped an 8-3 Wildcat run with a fast-break dunk that put the lead back at 19 (73-54) with 4:26 on the clock.

Albany cut into UNH’s lead at 75-59, but with the shot clock running down and a man draped over him, Gibbs banged a 3-pointer that closed the scoring with 1:20 to play. Abreu scored all 12 of his second-half points in a five-minute span from 9:50 to 4:50.

Senior guard Eric Gilchrese also scored in double digits for the Wildcats with 11 points to go along with five assists and two rebounds. Sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua chipped in with four points and seven boards, while junior guard Colbey Santos added five points on 2 of 2 shooting, including a big 3-pointer, in four minutes. Valladares reached season highs in points (4) and minutes (13).

Gibbs finished the game with 1,221 career points and is just seven points shy of passing Billy Pappas (1,228) for eighth place on UNH’s all-time scoring list.

The Wildcats posted their second highest point total of the season by shooting 57 percent (25-44) from the floor and 60 percent (12-20) from behind the arc – both season highs. The ‘Cats held Albany to 40 percent (19-48) shooting from the field, including nine percent (1-11) from 3 – UNH’s best mark of the season. The Wildcats improved to 9-2 when limiting their opponent to 60 points or less and 6-1 when shooting better than 40 percent from deep.

Harris led the Great Danes with 18 points and seven rebounds. Jerel Hastings was named Albany’s America East Player of the Game with 11 points, three rebounds and three steals.

LAST TIME OUT

Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu poured in a game-high 23 points and senior guard Tyrece Gibbs added 20, but the Wildcats suffered a 70-69 heartbreaking loss in overtime to Binghamton University on Feb. 22 in front of 5,222 fans – the largest regular-season crowd in the history of the Events Center.

The loss thwarted a possible three-game winning streak for the Wildcats and sent them to 11-15 on the season, including 6-8 in the America East. The Bearcats, who moved atop the standings with the win, improved to 19-8 overall and 12-3 in the conference.

Abreu, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, added four rebounds and three assists in a career-high 41 minutes, while Gibbs tallied five boards, a pair of assists and a steal in 45 minutes.

With UNH up six with 1:38 remaining in regulation, D.J. Rivera and Tiki Mayben hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 64 with 25 seconds left. After a Wildcat miss, Reggie Fuller pulled down a rebound with two seconds left, but turned the ball over and gave the Wildcats one last chance to win it in regulation. A heave from just inside half court by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro looked good, but caromed off the backboard and just missed the rim on the way down.

The Wildcats opened the overtime session with Abreu’s third trey of the game, which put UNH up three just 19 seconds in. Five Binghamton free throws over the next 3:24 – including one by Malik Alvin with 1:51 remaining that gave the Bearcats their first lead since 16:13 of the second half – put BU on top 70-67 with 1:16 on the clock.

After a huge block on a Rivera jumper by freshman forward Brian Benson, senior guard Eric Gilchrese drew the foul and sank two at the line to cut the UNH deficit to one with 26 seconds left. The Wildcats fouled and after Brandon Herbert missed both at the stripe, UNH had one last shot to win it. The Wildcats missed a jumper, but could not hold onto the offensive rebound as the ball caromed out of bounds and over to the Bearcats with sixth-tenths of a second left. Mayben’s inbound was broken up by Abreu, but no time remained to get a shot off and the Bearcats escaped with the one-point victory. DiLiegro pulled down seven rebounds, while Benson recorded six points, five boards and three blocks in 22 minutes.

Trailing 33-32 coming out of the half, Gibbs nailed a 3-pointer to put UNH up by two just 12 seconds in. After Rivera tied the game with a jumper, Abreu sank a jumper of his own to re-gain the lead, but Rivera answered with another shot that tied the game at 37. After a steal by sophomore guard Tyrone Conley, Abreu hit Conley in stride on the fast break for a dunk that put the Wildcats up 39-37 with 18:04 remaining. Fuller answered with a dunk at the other end that tied the game once more.

After a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua once again gave the Wildcats a two-point lead, Rivera responded with a 3-pointer that gave the Bearcats a 42-41 advantage at 16:54. Abreu answered with another trey and the shootout continued as Mayben buried a 3-pointer of his own before Abreu sank another from behind the arc to give UNH a 47-45 lead at 15:50. Fuller ended the seesaw battle with a layup at 15:06, which tied the game for the fourth time in the half.
From there, the Wildcats went on a 12-3 run that was sparked by a 3-pointer from Conley, and capped with another from Gibbs, which made it 59-50 with 10:29 remaining. Four straight points from Fuller sliced the deficit to four at 8:25 before Conley and Herbert traded baskets to make it 61-56 with 5:08 to go. Gibbs then converted a monster three-point play to make the lead eight at 4:43. That would be the last time UNH would score, however, as a steal and a dunk by Rivera sparked an 8-0 Binghamton run that tied the game. Conley tallied 12 points, four rebounds, an assist and two steals, while Tchatchoua chipped in with four points, seven boards and an assist.

After Binghamton scored the first five points of the game, consecutive 3-pointers by Gibbs and Conley gave UNH a 6-5 lead at 15:50. An 11-2 run by Binghamton, however, put the Bearcats up 17-8 at 12:51. After a tip in by Benson, Binghamton took its largest lead of the game at 20-10 after Rivera converted an old fashioned three-point play. Abreu and Rivera then traded baskets before a Gibbs 3 sparked a 9-0 run that brought UNH to within 22-21 at 8:44.

Binghamton led 29-25 with 2:55 to go when Gibbs sank a 3-pointer to cut it to one. Conley followed with a layup at 2:06 that gave UNH a 30-29 lead. Binghamton went ahead by two on a Moussa Camara 3-pointer at 1:42 before a pair of free throws by Benson tied the game at 32 with 1:13 remaining. Mayben then hit one of three from the line with 25 seconds to go to send the teams into the locker room.

Gibbs, playing in his school record-tying 113th game, finished with 1,252 career points and moved past Matt Alosa (2,247) for seventh place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. With five treys on the day, Gibbs moved into fourth place on the program’s single-season 3-pointers made list with 71.

The Wildcats outshot Binghamton, 38 percent (21-55) to 37 percent (23-62) from the floor and also hit a season-high 81 percent (17-21) from the line. UNH also won the battle on glass as they outrebounded the Bearcats, 44-35, with junior forward Radar Onguetou hauling in a team-high eight.

Fuller, Binghamton’s America East Player of the Game, led the Bearcats with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Rivera added 21 points and five rebounds, and matched an America East record for most steals in a game this season with six. Rivera set the record Jan. 8 against Vermont before Abreu tied it Feb. 19 against Maine. Mayben added 15 points and four assists.

PLAYING GAMES

Tyrece Gibbs will play in his 114th career game as a Wildcat tonight and become the program’s all-time games played leader, passing both Dirk Koopman and Greg Steele, who each played in 113 games.

HI MOM

Including tonight, four of the Wildcats’ last five games and three in a row have been played on television.

AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME...

Tyrece Gibbs and Alvin Abreu are locking in down the stretch for the Wildcats. Gibbs is averaging 16.6 points per game during his five-game double-digit scoring streak, while Abreu is pouring in 18.8 ppg over the span of his four-game double-digit scoring streak.

CRASHING THE GLASS

The Wildcats have gone to work on the boards this season as they rank second in the conference in rebounding (35.9 rpg) and rebounding margin (+1.7). The ‘Cats, who are 8-5 when outrebounding their opponent, have only lost three battles on the glass in conference play this season (Boston University, twice, and UMBC). They are also the only team in the conference this season to outrebound Albany, which leads the America East in rebounding (38.8 rpg) and rebounding margin (+8.3). The Great Dane’s rebounding margin is the fifth best in the country.

LATE BLOOMER

Alvin Abreu has netted 17 points in the second half three times this season, Nov. 29 at Marist, Dec. 13 at Long Island and Feb. 10 at UMBC. The sophomore guard picks up his scoring in the second half as he has averaged 4.9 points in the opening frame and 8.1 points in the second half. Abreu has scored in double digits in the first half just twice this season, while he has netted at least 10 points in the second stanza 10 times, including a 19-point performance against Santa Clara on Jan. 4.

SEEING DOUBLE

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 25 of his last 30 games dating back to last season, including 21 of 26 this season. Gibbs has his eye on setting a new mark again as he currently has scored in double digits in five straight games.

PAIR POURING IN THE POINTS FOR 'CATS

The Wildcats are one of just three teams in the conference to have two players in the top 10 in scoring. Tyrece Gibbs is ninth at 13.9 points per game, while Alvin Abreu is 10th at 13.1 ppg.

DURHAM THREE PARTY

Tyrece Gibbs is currently tied with Boston University’s Corey Lowe for most 3-pointers made in the conference this season at 71.

RANDOM "UNH RECORD WHEN..." TIDBITS

The Wildcats are 10-2 when holding their opponents to 60 points or less and are 5-2 when forcing their opponents to shoot under 40 percent from the floor. The tenacious defense pays off as the Wildcats are 8-1 when leading at halftime. The ‘Cats are tough to beat when their barrage of 3-point shooters are on, owning a 6-1 record when shooting over 40 percent from deep. The squad also must like playing in the middle of the week as they are 5-1 on Wednesdays.

NATIONALLY RANKED

UNH is ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a pair of categories. The Wildcats are 41st in 3-point field goals per game (7.9) and 90th in scoring defense (64.5). Individually, Tyrece Gibbs is 43rd in the nation in field goal percentage (39.4) and 56th in 3-pointers per game (2.7).

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS

Heading into tonight’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 519 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 695 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.

HOLDING DOWN THE FORT

UNH has had a knack for holding down the opposing team’s leading scorer this season. In 23 games when the opposition has had its leading scorer play in the game, the Wildcats have held him under his season average 15 times, including 12 of the last 16.

POINTS CHASE

Tyrece Gibbs scored 20 points at Binghamton on Feb. 22 to bring his career total to 1,252 points and move past Matt Alosa (1,247) for seventh place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. Next up for Gibbs: Dan Nolan, who sits in sixth with 1,258 points.

TOTAL PACKAGE

Tyrece Gibbs has done it all during his time in a UNH jersey, filling the stat line night in and night out. The effort paid off as Gibbs is just the second Wildcat in history to amass at least 1,000 points, 400 rebounds, 200 assists, 80 steals and 45 blocks. With 1,252 points, 480 rebounds, 238 assists, 87 steals and 55 blocks, Gibbs joins Eric Montanari (92-95), who totaled 1,038 points, 418 rebounds, 217 assists, 93 steals and 47 blocks, on the exclusive list.

TY-RRIFIC

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. This year, Gibbs is fourth on UNH’s single-season 3-pointers made list with 71. The guard is currently first all-time in games played (113), second in 3-pointers made (217), second in 3-point attempts (551), fourth in blocks (55), fourth in minutes played (3,556), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.394) and seventh in field goals attempted (1,061). Gibbs, who became the 26th Wildcat to score 1,000 points in a career Dec. 13 at Long Island, is also close to moving into the top 10 in field goals made and assists.

GIBBS AE'S FOURTH ACTIVE LEADING SCORER

America East Active Scoring Leaders

Mike Trimboli (Vermont)     1,968
Darryl Proctor (UMBC)       1,848*
Corey Lowe (Boston U.)     1,267
Tyrece Gibbs (UNH)           1,252
Marqus Blakely (Vermont)  1,188
Jay Greene (UMBC)           1,129
Joe Zeglinski (Hartford)      1,099
Mark Socoby (Maine)             991

*1,047 points at UMBC, 801 at Coppin State

DANE TRAIN: NOW BOARDING...AND SCORING

Dane DiLiegro, who is currently second in the conference in offensive rebounds per game (3.0) and fifth in rebounding overall (7.2 rpg), is averaging 5.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, better than his numbers of 4.6 points and 5.9 boards per contest at this point last season. After posting one double-digit scoring game and six double-digit rebounding games in 29 contests last year, the center has notched six double-digit scoring games and six double-digit rebounding games in just 25 tilts this season. DiLiegro has improved his efficiency as well, shooting 55.6 percent from the field, which is currently good for seventh best in a single season at UNH, as compared to his mark of 46.7 percent last year.

THIS IS SPORTSCENTER...DUH NUH NUH, DUH NUH NUH

Dane DiLiegro had a career night against Maine on Feb. 19 when he netted 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. DiLiegro continued his special night after the game when he appeared as the No. 7 play on ESPN SportCenter’s Top Ten Plays.

GETTING BETTER

With their 63-54 win against Maine on Feb. 19, the Wildcats picked up their 11th overall win and sixth in the conference. The 11 wins are the most for UNH since head coach Bill Herrion guided the ‘Cats to 12 victories in his first year at the helm in 2005-06. With three games remaining, the six conference wins also equal the same amount UNH earned the previous two seasons.

CARDIAC KIDS

The Wildcats erased a 10-point deficit with 9:14 to play to record a 63-54 win against Maine on Feb. 19. It is the fourth time UNH has had to overcome a deficit of nine or more points to notch a victory. The ‘Cats used stifling defense that held Maine without a bucket for 8:11 to craft an 18-0 run that led them to the win.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR DOUBLE D

Dane DiLiegro notched his fifth career double-double and fourth of the season versus Maine on Feb. 19 when he set a career high with 21 points and ripped down 12 boards. DiLiegro recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds against Hofstra on Dec. 27 for his first double-double of the season, posted 12 points and 12 boards at Maine on Jan. 19 for his second and temporarily set a new career high with 16 points to go along with 12 rebounds at UMBC on Feb. 10

HANGING TEN

Dane DiLiegro scored a career-high 21 points on 10 of 14 shooting against Maine on Feb. 19, making him the first Wildcat to record 10 baskets in a game since Blagoj Janev was a perfect 11-for-11 from the field en route to 31 points against Vermont on Jan. 9, 2007.

LOOK, I'M ON TV!

In the last two America East television games the Wildcats have competed in, Dane DiLiegro has played like someone who doesn’t mind the limelight. DiLiegro set a career high with 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds Feb. 10 at UMBC in a game aired on Comcast SportsNet. A little more than a week later on NESN, DiLiegro erased that mark with 21 points and 12 boards versus Maine on Feb. 19

GRAND THEFT

Alvin Abreu recorded six steals against Maine on Feb. 19, tying the most swipes in a game in America East this season. Binghamton’s D.J. Rivera also tallied six thefts against Vermont on Jan. 8.

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

When the Wildcats posted a 78-59 win against Albany on Feb. 15, the 19-point margin of defeat was the largest in the history of SEFCU Arena, which opened for the 1992-93 season. In addition, after recording a 30-29 rebounding edge in the game, the Wildcats became the first America East team to outrebound the Great Danes this season.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

The Wildcats’ 78-59 win against Albany on Feb. 15 was their second win of the season against an above-.500 team, as well as the first wire-to-wire win of the year over a Division I opponent as they led from the start. The ‘Cats shot 57 percent (25-44) from the floor and 60 percent (12-20) from behind the arc – both season highs – to pick up their third road win in the last four tries. They also held Albany to 40 percent (19-48) shooting from the field, including nine percent (1-11) from 3 – UNH’s best mark of the season.

FOUR HISTORY'S SAKE

With their 78-59 win against Albany on Feb. 15, the Wildcats recorded their 10th victory of the year and surpassed their win total from all of last season. That gives the ‘Cats three 10-win seasons in four years under head coach Bill Herrion, marking just the fourth time in school history that has happened. The last time UNH attained the feat was from 1982-83 to 1985-86 when the program put together three double-digit win seasons in four years under legendary UNH head coach Gerry Friel.

STAY FOR AWHILE

UNH Athletic Director Marty Scarano announced Feb. 5 that  head coach Bill Herrion has been signed to a new five-year contract.

“We have great confidence in Bill Herrion and what he is accomplishing at UNH,” Scarano said. “Bill, his staff and the student-athletes are building a strong foundation for future success. We knew that this building process was a long-term proposition, and I see daily tangible evidence that our program is advancing. We are fortunate to have Bill leading this program. He knows what it takes and is dogged in his pursuit to make our program competitive.”

Herrion added, “I just want to thank UNH, particularly President Huddleston and Marty Scarano, for their support of our men’s basketball program. We have worked extremely hard to build this program, and with this commitment we will continue to pursue our goal of winning the America East championship.”

MOVIN' ON UP

Tyrece Gibbs moved up a trio of all-time program lists against Boston University on Feb. 7. Gibbs scored a game-high 20 points to bring his career total to 1,189 points and move past Matt Acres (1,169), Jim Rich (1,180) and Greg Steele (1,187) for 10th place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. In the final minutes of the opening half, the co-captain sank his 198th career 3-pointer, which moved him past Tommy MacDonald (197) and into second place on UNH’s all-time 3-point field goals made list. Gibbs also recorded the 51st block of his career, moving him into a fourth-place tie with Joe Rainis on the program’s all-time list.

WELCOME BACK

After being away from the team Dec. 6-Jan. 17, Eric Gilchrese played in his first game Jan. 28 at Stony Brook and looked like he had not missed a beat. Gilchrese led the ‘Cats to a 71-60 come-from-behind win with 22 points on 6 of 10 shooting, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc.

CAN YOU SPARE A BASKET?

When the Wildcats overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat Stony Brook, 71-60, Jan. 28, it was again there defense that came up big. The ‘Cats held the Seawolves to just four field goals and 18 percent shooting (4-22) in the second half, including just one basket and 11 percent shooting (1-9) in the final 10 minutes of the game.

OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION

Trailing 34-25 against Stony Brook at the half Jan. 28, the Wildcats exploded out of the locker room, tying the game with a 13-4 run that was part of a larger 27-8 run, which led the ‘Cats to a 71-60 win. The Wildcats scored more points in the first 8:29 of the second half (26) than they did in the entire first half (25).

DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR CAPTAIN GIBBS

Tyrece Gibbs recorded his second career double-double when he netted 10 points and matched his career high with 10 rebounds at Vermont on Jan. 25. Gibbs’ previous double-double came in an overtime contest against Harvard on Nov. 29, 2006 at Lundholm Gymnasium when he tallied the same 10 and 10.

D.J. REJECTED BY WILDCAT D

Binghamton’s D.J. Rivera, who came into the Jan. 22 matchup against UNH ranked 23rd in the country in scoring at 20.6 points per game, only managed to score six points versus the Wildcats. It was the first time in 19 games that Rivera had been held to single digits, with 11 being his previous season low in points.

TOURNEY BOUND?

In his Jan. 18 “Bracketology” column on ESPN.com where he predicts the NCAA tournament bracket and updates it weeky, Joe Lunardi picked the Wildcats to win the America East and play the MEAC’s Florida A&M in the opening-round game. If the Wildcats were to win that game, Lunardi has them advancing to play No. 1 Pitt, where head coach Bill Herrion’s brother, Tom, is the associate head coach.

NON-CONFERENCE SLATE SUCCESS

After beating Dartmouth, 68-59, Jan. 17 to close out their non-conference slate at 5-7, the Wildcats finish with their best non-conference record since the 2003-04 season when they had an identical 5-7 record.

HOME COOKIN'

After their 65-47 win against UMBC at Lundholm Gymnasium on Jan. 14, the Wildcats improved to 5-2 at home this season, marking the best home start for UNH since it began the 1997-98 season 6-1 in  Durham.

CONFERENCE CONQUEST

With their 65-47 victory against UMBC on Jan. 14, the Wildcats are now 2-1 in America East play for the first time since the 1994-95 season when they recorded two wins against Hofstra before losing to Delaware. The last time the ‘Cats started a conference slate 3-1 was during the 1991-92 campaign.

KNOCKING OUT THE CHAMP

After beating UMBC, 65-47, Jan. 14, the Wildcats, who last season knocked off defending champion Albany, 75-66, have now recorded a victory over the reigning conference champions in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns when they notched wins over Delaware.

BENSON HELPS PUT BOUNCE IN WILDCATS' STEP

Brian Benson provided a surge of energy off the bench during UNH’s 11-2 to start the second half in its 65-47 win versus UMBC on Jan. 14. Benson threw down a monstrous two-handed slam off a feed from sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua at 18:22, and just moments later came up with a huge rejection of Darryl Proctor that kept the team feeding off the noisy Lundholm crowd’s liveliness.

WILDCATS KEEP ON DEFENDING

When UNH defeated UMBC, 65-47, Jan. 14, it was once again the defense that came up big down the stretch for the Wildcats. After a Darryl Proctor layup with 9:11 left in the second half, the ‘Cats held UMBC scoreless during a 6-0 run that spanned the next 5:54. UNH, which has the second best scoring defense in the conference and 75th best in the country at 63.4 papg, is 6-2 when holding its opponents to 60 points or less and 1-8 when allowing 61 or more.

HOME, SWEET HOME AGAINST HARTFORD

After its 55-47 win against Hartford at Lundholm Gym on Jan. 7, the Wildcats have now won five straight at home against the Hawks, dating back to the 2004-05 season.

OPENING UP RIGHT

UNH’s 55-47 win versus Hartford in its conference opener Jan. 7, paired with its 75-66 win at home against Albany in last season’s conference opener, gives the Wildcats victories in league openers in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.

DILIEGRO LEADS WINDEXING WILDCATS

Dane DiLiegro tore down a career-high 17 rebounds, including 10 in the first half, in UNH’s 55-47 win against Hartford on Jan. 7. DiLiegro, who tallied more offensive rebounds (8) than Hartford’s entire team (5), led the Wildcats to a 44-29 rebound advantage. The 17 boards are also a season-high in America East this season, beating out Stony Brook’s Tommy Brenton, who had 15 against Maryland Eastern Shore on Nov. 14. The rebound total is the most anyone in the conference has recorded since Vermont’s Marqus Blakely had 29 at UNC-Wilmington on Feb. 23, 2008, and most in a conference game since Blakely had 20 against Hartford on Feb. 20, 2008.

WILDCAT DEFENSE CONTINUING TO IMPROVE

UNH’s defense continues to get better each game and that did not change against Hartford on Jan. 7. Trailing 17-15 with 5:45 to play in the first half, the Wildcats were sparked by a Tyrece Gibbs 3-pointer from the left wing that put them back out in front, 18-17, and sent them on an 8-2 run that would give the ‘Cats a 23-19 lead at the half. UNH carried over its momentum from the first half as it opened the second frame with an 8-0 run that made the score 31-19 at 15:14. Hartford did not record its first point of the second half until a Michael Turner free throw at 13:42 and had its first bucket of the second stanza come on a Jaret von Rosenberg layup at 11:57. Going back into the first half, the Wildcats held the Hawks scoreless for 9:11, and without a field goal for 10:53.

ESPN'S KATZ WEIGHS IN ON 'CATS

In his blog on ESPN.com, Andy Katz had this to say about the Wildcats and their fourth-year leader: “Bill Herrion may have finally hit a consistent stride in his rebuilding job at New Hampshire. Like Harvard, UNH took out Santa Clara at home by four and then opened up America East play by beating Hartford at home. A trip to Boston University is next for the Wildcats. A win there for UNH might be a significant turning point for Herrion.“

ABREU NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Alvin Abreu had a career day on the offensive end of the floor Jan. 4 against Santa Clara. Abreu propelled the Wildcats to a 58-54 victory on their home court with a career-high 28 points on 8 of 14 shooting. The sophomore guard also knocked down a career-best seven 3-pointers and was perfect from deep on the day, setting a school record for most treys in a game without a miss. Abreu also netted his 500th career point and finished the day with 513. For his efforts, Abreu was named America East Co-Player of the Week the following day. The award is the first for Abreu, who was a three-time America East Rookie of the Week last season, as well as an All-Rookie Team member.

WILDCAT D BUCKS BRONCOS' BRYANT

In their 58-54 win against Santa Clara on Jan. 4, the Wildcats shut down Bronco big man John Bryant. Bryant, who has received numerous looks from NBA scouts this season, came into the game averaging 18.7 points and 12.6 rebounds per contest, while owning 10 double-doubles, including a pair of 20-20 games. The Wildcats’ post defense, led by center Dane DiLiegro, held the senior to just seven points – his lowest total of the year – and eight rebounds.

WEST COAST PARTY

UNH’s win against Santa Clara – arguably its biggest non-conference victory in nearly 15 years – was the program’s first ever against a West Coast Conference team. The Wildcats had previously lost to St. Mary’s (Dec. 22, 1988) and Gonzaga (Dec. 27, 1993).

GRAND THREE-PEAT

Tyrece Gibbs became the 26th Wildcat in program history to score 1,000 points in a career when he knocked down a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in the game against Long Island on Dec. 13. This marks the third straight season the Wildcats have seen one of their players reach the 1,000-point plateau. Blagoj Janev, who is currently fourth on UNH’s all-time scoring list with 1,340 points, recorded his 1,000th during the 2006-07 season, while Mike Christensen, 17th with 1,087 points, tallied his 1,000th last season.

HANGIN' TOUGH

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.

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.

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.

BENSON'S FAMOUS TEAMMATE

Brian Benson was on the court as a sophomore at Greece-Athena 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.

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