MEN'S HOOPS HOOKS UP WITH HARVARD ON NOV. 19 AT LUNDHOLM

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DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will meet Harvard University on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 17p.m. at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Wildcats and the Crimson enter Wednesday’s match-up having met 34 times in their history, with Harvard leading the all-time series 20-14. Harvard carries a three-game winning streak versus UNH into tonight’s game, having not lost to the Wildcats since a 67-60 overtime defeat at Lundholm on Dec. 1, 2004. That marked UNH’s second straight win over the Crimson. In the most recent meeting, Harvard downed the Wildcats, 72-67 at Lavietes Pavilion on Nov. 28, 2007.

Senior forward Mike Christensen scored a game-high 18 points and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs added 16 points and seven rebounds to lead the way for the Wildcats.

The loss snapped the Wildcats’ three-game winning streak and put their record at 3-2, while the Crimson improved to 3-4.

After a Gibbs layup with just over one minute left in the game cut Harvard’s lead to 70-67, a missed layup by Evan Harris gave the ‘Cats a chance to tie the game. UNH called timeout with 14 seconds remaining, and broke the huddle looking for a three-point play. When the Wildcats were denied the 3-point shot, freshman Alvin Abreu drove to the hoop for a two-point basket, hoping to draw the foul. Abreu missed the layup, however, and Christensen’s missed tip with four seconds left sealed the win for Harvard.

Abreu was the third Wildcat to score in double digits, chipping in with 10 points and six rebounds.

The Wildcats, who were outshot 47 percent (24-51) to 39 percent (22-57) from the field, led for most of the first half. After Gibbs led the game off with a 3-pointer, UNH held a lead, which never grew to more than four points, until a Harris bucket with 6:37 remaining in the half put the Crimson up, 23-22.  

Harvard followed with an 8-0 run, culminating with a Harris free throw that put the Crimson on top 33-25 with 3:41 left in the first frame. That lead, which UNH would cut to four (37-33) heading into the break, was Harvard’s largest of the contest.

Gibbs netted 12 of his 16 points in the first half. 

The back-and-forth battle continued in the second half, with Harvard leading most of the way, but never by more than the five points that were the difference in the game.

The Wildcats led as late as 4:09 left in the game when they went on top, 61-60, and tied the game for the 13th time at 65-all on a Christensen trey with 2:35 remaining, but a layup by Harris and a 3-pointer from Drew Housman gave the Crimson the lead for good.

 UNH lost despite forcing 22 Harvard turnovers and outscoring the Crimson, 20-13, in points off turnovers. The Wildcats themselves turned the ball over 20 times. The ‘Cats were outscored in the paint (34-24) and in points off the bench (49-18).

Harris led Harvard with 18 points, while former Wildcat Dan McGeary tallied 11 points in his first matchup against his old team.

LAST TIME OUT

Senior guards Eric Gilchrese and Tyrece Gibbs scored 21 and 18 points, respectively, to lead the Wildcats to a 101-50 victory over Suffolk University in its season-opener Nov. 16 at Lundholm Gymnasium.   

The 1-0 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.

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 found fellow freshman guard Ryan Herrion 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 scored 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting, including a put-back dunk off a Tyrone Conley 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 also submitted a solid stat line with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior forward Radar Onguetou 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 scored four points to go along with three rebounds, a block and a steal. Sophomore center James Valladares recorded two points, six rebounds, two assists and a block, while junior guard Colbey Santos 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 forward Abby Kabba tallied three points, three boards and a block, and freshman forward Brian Benson 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).

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.

SEEING DOUBLE

Including last season, Tyrece Gibbs has posted double-digit point figures in five straight games, the second longest streak of his career. Gibbs had a six-game double-digit point streak that spanned from Jan. 18, 2007-Feb. 8, 2007.

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.

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. The guard is currently fifth all-time on UNH’s 3-pointers made list (148), sixth in 3-point attempts (376) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (.394). Gibbs, who is 92 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.

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS

Heading into today’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 489 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 669 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.

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.

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.

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.


2008-09 OUTLOOK

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.

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