DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will wrap up its regular season with a Senior Day matchup versus Stony Brook University on Sunday, March 1 at 1 p.m. at Lundholm Gymnasium. A win would give the Wildcats the No. 4 seed – their highest seed since the 2001-02 season – in next weekend's America East tournament and a quarterfinal date with these same fifth-seeded Seawolves. The contest will be broadcast live on Yahoo! radio, with the link available at www.UNHWildcats.com. The Wildcats and Seawolves meet for the 17th time in their relatively young conference rivalry, with UNH leading the all-time series, 11-5. The Wildcats have won seven of the last eight meetings, including three straight against the Seawolves. UNH, which swept the season series last year for the second time in three seasons, goes for its second straight sweep of the season series today. The Wildcats have been victorious in three of the last four games on the road against the Seawolves, and have been even more dominant at home against SBU, winning six of their last seven, including five straight. In the most recent meeting Jan. 28, the Wildcats erased a nine-point deficit to record a 71-60 victory at Pritchard Gymnasium.
After missing nearly two months, senior guard Eric Gilchrese returned to score a season-high 22 points and lift the Wildcats to the victory.
The win snapped the Wildcats’ three-game losing skid and improved their record to 8-11 on the season, including 3-4 in America East play. The Seawolves fell to 11-10 overall and 3-5 in the conference. The win was UNH’s third straight against SBU and its seventh in the last eight meetings.
In a season-high 31 minutes, Gilchrese – who had missed 12 straight games and had not played since Dec. 6 – was 6 of 10 from the floor, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc. Gilchrese, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, was also 5-for-6 from the line to go along with two rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs and sophomore guard Alvin Abreu also scored in double digits with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Gibbs added five rebounds, an assist and a block, while Abreu tallied a rebound, three assists, a block and a steal.
Trailing 34-25 at the half, UNH responded with a 27-8 run that lasted until midway through the second frame. The Wildcats started the half with a 10-2 run – highlighted by eight points from Gilchrese – to cut their deficit to one (36-35) in the first three minutes. After a pair of Tommy Brenton free throws stopped the bleeding for Stony Brook, Gibbs re-opened the flood gates with a 3-pointer at 16:09 that tied the game and sparked a 17-4 UNH run.
A pair of Muhammad El-Amin free throws put the Seawolves back in front, 40-38, until back-to-back baskets by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro recaptured the lead for UNH with 14:00 remaining. El-Amin responded with a jumper to put Stony Brook back in front, but a Gilchrese trey with 13:19 left gave UNH a 45-42 lead – a lead it would hold for good – and sparked a 10-0 Wildcat run. Abreu nailed back-to-back 3s before junior forward Radar Onguetou added a free throw that opened a 52-42 UNH lead with 10:28 to play. The Wildcats scored more points in the first 8:29 of the second half (26) than they did in the entire first half (25).
After Stony Brook had cut the lead to eight, Gilchrese drained his fifth and final trifecta of the night to give UNH its largest lead of the game at 57-46 with just under eight minutes to go. The Seawolves had one last push in them, however, hitting eight free throws over the next three minutes for an 8-0 run that cut their deficit to 57-54.
Two Gibbs free throws would snap the stretch before an El-Amin jumper – the lone Stony Brook field goal over the final 10:01 – kept it a three-point game. After Abreu sank a pair from the line, the Wildcats made a stop on the defensive end and looked to their captain to step up. With the shot clock running down, Gibbs did just that, hitting a fall-away jumper in the lane to put his team up 63-56 with 2:29 on the clock.
A couple of free throws brought Stony Brook within five, but Gibbs came up big again, knocking down another one of his four 3-pointers from the top of the key with 1:08 left to open the Wildcat lead to 66-58. After a missed 3-pointer by the Seawolves, Gibbs corralled the rebound and used a beautiful outlet pass to hit Abreu in stride for a layup with would give UNH a 68-58 lead 44 ticks left and seal the win. The two teams traded free throws before Abreu added one at the line with 27 seconds on the clock to cap the scoring. DiLiegro recorded four points, eight boards, two assists and a steal in the game, while Onguetou chipped in with three points, seven rebounds, an assist and a block.
After SBU scored the first four points of the game, a jumper by Abreu and a 3-pointer by junior guard Colbey Santos gave UNH a 5-4 lead with 17:44 remaining in the first half. The Seawolves went ahead on four straight free throws by El-Amin before a bucket by Abreu cut the lead to one. A Demetrius Young layup put the lead back to three when a Gilchrese trey tied the game at 10 with 12:44 left in the half.
Back-to-back Stony Brook 3s opened a six-point lead until Gibbs answered with one of his own to make it 16-13 with 11:08 remaining. Down 20-15, Gibbs nailed another 3 to slice UNH’s deficit to two. The Seawolves would answer, however, crafting a 7-2 run to take a 27-20 lead with 5:30 left. The Wildcats would cut it to four on a Gibbs jumper with 3:16 to play, but another 7-2 Stony Brook run closed the half with the Seawolves on top 34-25.
UNH shot its second highest percentages of the year from both the floor and behind the arc. The Wildcats were 51 percent (24-47) from the field and 48 percent (12-25) from deep, while holding Stony Brook to just 38 percent (17-45) and 27 percent (3-11) in those respective categories. The ‘Cats also continued to dominate the glass, holding a 32-26 rebounding advantage.
The block for Gibbs moved him into a fifth-place tie with Blagoj Janev (49) on UNH’s all-time blocks list.
El-Amin, Stony Book’s Player of the Game, led the Seawolves with a game-high 24.
LAST TIME OUT
Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs netted a game-high 20 points to propel the Wildcats to a 64-56 victory over the University at Albany on Feb. 26 at Lundholm Gymnasium.
With their third win in four games, the Wildcats improved to 12-15 on the season, including 7-8 in the America East, and completed the season sweep of Albany. UNH, which has now won three of the last four meetings between the two squads, handed Albany its worst loss ever at SEFCU Arena with a 78-59 win Feb. 15. The ‘Cats also matched their most wins in a season under head coach Bill Herrion since his first year at the helm in 2005-06. The Great Danes fell to 14-14 overall and 6-9 in the conference.
Gibbs, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, added three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 38 minutes.
Tied at 49 with 4:01 to play in the game, the Wildcats ripped off a 15-4 run that gave them their largest lead of the game at 64-53 with just 36 seconds remaining. After junior forward Radar Onguetou started the run by putting back a Wildcat miss, Gibbs nailed his fourth and final 3-pointer of the game, which widened the lead to five. After the teams traded pairs of free throws, sophomore center Dane DiLiegro sank four straight from the line to push the lead to nine.
After a layup by Brian Connelly, the Wildcats opened the lead to 11 with Gibbs and Onguetou each draining two from the stripe. Connelly closed the scoring with an old fashioned three-point play with 23 ticks on the clock before Gibbs fittingly dribbled away the final seconds to seal the win. Onguetou came up just shy of a double-double as he scored 12 points and ripped down nine rebounds.
The run may have been sparked by an Onguetou layup, but it was a dunk from his countryman that woke up the Wildcats and the 1,355 fans in attendance at Lundholm. With the teams going back and forth for six-plus minutes, sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua came up with a huge block on Connelly, grabbed the ball and took it coast-to-coast and finished as he glided through the air with the ball cocked back and slammed it home to give the Wildcats a 46-43 lead with 8:43 remaining. The dunk, which many veteran Wildcat fans said was the best they had ever seen in the building, infused energy into the crowd – which stayed cheering for nearly a minute – and the team for the stretch run. Tchatchoua finished with 12 points on a perfect 5 of 5 from the field and 4 of 4 from the line to go along with three rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes off the bench.
After a Gibbs trey tied the game at five early in the first half, Albany crafted a 7-2 run to take a five-point lead at 13:27. Still down five a short time later, the Wildcats scored seven straight with a jumper from Tchatchoua, followed by a basket and a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Tyrone Conley, to take a 16-14 lead at 9:35.
The teams then traded 3-pointers before a 10-2 run by the Great Danes put them up 27-21 with 5:17 to go in the opening frame. A Tchatchoua jumper stopped the bleeding, but the teams went back and forth until an alley-oop from Jerel Hastings to Will Harris gave Albany its largest lead of the game at 32-25 with 33 seconds left before the break. Gibbs answered the bell again, however, hitting a tough shot from the top of the key with a defender draped over him as time expired to cut it to 32-27 at the half. Conley chipped in with seven points and five rebounds.
A layup by Tim Ambrose to start the half gave Albany its seven-point advantage right back, but six straight points from the Wildcats cut their deficit to 34-33 at 16:54. Harris responded with a 3-pointer before a jumper by freshman guard Russell Graham and two free throws from Gibbs tied the game at 37 with 13:53 remaining. Graham’s relentless on-the-ball defense also helped turn the tide for UNH as it brought an intensity the Wildcats had not really shown up to that point when he first checked into the game at 15:04 in the second half.
Tied at 41, Gibbs knocked down a jumper in the paint that put the Wildcats on top at 11:06. After the Wildcats nudged the lead to three with one at the line, Connelly hit a pair there to cut the UNH lead to 44-43 and set the stage for Tchatchoua’s earth-shattering dunk that helped spark the ‘Cats to victory.
Gibbs, playing in his 114th game to pass Dirk Koopman and Greg Steele and become UNH’s all-time games played leader, finished with 1,272 career points and passed Dan Nolan (1,258) for sixth on the program’s scoring list. Gibbs’ two blocks also gave him 56 for his career and leapfrogged him past Scott Drapeau (55) for third all-time in blocked shots.
UNH outshot Albany, 43 percent (20-47) to 33 percent (16-48). The Wildcats shot 48 percent (11-23) in the second half when their defense held the Great Danes to just 21 percent on 6 of 29 shooting. The battle on the glass finished in a 33-33 tie, but the Wildcats – the only America East team this year to outrebound the Great Danes – outboarded Albany, 23-15 in the second half. The ‘Cats also turned the ball over fewer times (9) than the Danes (11).
Ambrose, Albany’s America East Player of the Game, led the Great Danes with 11 points, but was held to just two in the second half by UNH’s stifling defense.
SO LONG SENIORS
Senior guards Tyrece Gibbs and Eric Gilchrese will be honored before the March 1 game against Stony Brook by their coaches, teammates, fans and the UNH community for their contributions to the program during their time in a Wildcat uniform.
If the Wildcats beat Stony Brook on March 1, they will earn the No. 4 seed – their highest seed since the 2001-02 season – in the America East tournament and would play No. 5 Stony Book in the quarterfinal round March 7 at 8:30 p.m. If the Wildcats lose their final regular season game of the season to Stony Brook, they would then be the No. 5 seed with an Albany win at UMBC or the No. 6 seed if UMBC were to defeat Albany. As the fifth seed, UNH would play No. 4 Stony Brook in the quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m. The sixth seed would give the ‘Cats a quarterfinal date with third-seeded Boston University at 2:30 p.m.
With their 64-56 win against Albany on Feb. 26, the Wildcats picked up their 12th overall win and seventh in the conference. The 12 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. The seven conference wins are also the most since the ‘Cats finished 8-8 in the America East in that same season. A win against Stony Brook on March 1 would give the Wildcats their most victories since the 1994-95 season.
The Wildcats have improved each month this season. After starting the year with a 1-3 (.250) record in November, the ‘Cats followed with marks of 2-4 (.333) in December, 5-5 (.500) in January and 4-3 (.571) in February.
Rony Tchatchoua threw down an earth-shattering dunk against Albany on Feb. 26. With the teams going back and forth midway through the second half, Tchatchoua came up with a huge block on Brian Connelly, grabbed the ball and took it coast-to-coast and finished as he glided through the air with the ball cocked back and slammed it home to give the Wildcats a 46-43 lead with 8:43 remaining. The dunk, which many veteran Wildcat fans said was the best they had ever seen at Lundholm Gymnasium, infused energy into the crowd of 1,355 – which stayed cheering for nearly a minute – and the team for the stretch run. Tchatchoua finished with 12 points on a perfect 5 of 5 from the field and 4 of 4 from the line to go along with three rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes off the bench.
Tyrece Gibbs played in his 114th career game as a Wildcat on Feb. 26 versus Albany and became the program’s all-time games played leader, passing both Dirk Koopman and Greg Steele, who each played in 113 games.
Including the March 1 game versus Stony Brook, five of the Wildcats’ last six games and four in a row have been played on television.
RANDOM "UNH RECORD WHEN..." TIDBITS
The Wildcats are 11-2 when holding their opponents to 60 points or less and are 6-2 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.
CRASHING THE GLASS
The Wildcats have gone to work on the boards this season as they rank second in the conference in rebounding (35.8 rpg) and rebounding margin (+1.6). 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 (38.6 rpg) and rebounding margin (+8.0). The Great Dane’s rebounding margin is the sixth best in the country.
UNH is ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a pair of categories. The Wildcats are 47th in 3-point field goals per game (7.8) and 85th in scoring defense (64.2). Individually, Tyrece Gibbs is 44th in the nation in field goal percentage (39.9) and 51st in 3-pointers per game (2.8).
TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS
Heading into tonight’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 520 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 696 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 24 games when the opposition has had its leading scorer play in the game, the Wildcats have held him under his season average 16 times, including 13 of the last 17.
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.
AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME...
Tyrece Gibbs is locking in down the stretch for the Wildcats and playing like a senior captain should. Gibbs is averaging 17.2 points per game during his six-game double-digit scoring streak.
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 26 of his last 31 games dating back to last season, including 22 of 27 this season. Gibbs has his eye on setting a new mark again as he currently has scored in double digits in six straight games.
DURHAM THREE PARTY
Tyrece Gibbs is currently tied with Boston University’s John Holland for most 3-pointers made in the conference this season at 75.
Tyrece Gibbs scored 20 points versus Albany on Feb. 26 to bring his career total to 1,272 points and move past Dan Nolan (1,258) for sixth place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. Next up for Gibbs: Scott Drapeau, who sits in fifth with 1,290 points.
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 1,272 points, 483 rebounds, 240 assists, 87 steals and 57 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.
GIBBS AE'S FOURTH ACTIVE LEADING SCORER
America East Active Scoring Leaders
Mike Trimboli (Vermont) 1,968
Darryl Proctor (UMBC) 1,867*
Corey Lowe (Boston U.) 1,281
Tyrece Gibbs (UNH) 1,272
Marqus Blakely (Vermont) 1,188
Jay Greene (UMBC) 1,139
Joe Zeglinski (Hartford) 1,099
Mark Socoby (Maine) 1,002
*1,066 points at UMBC, 801 at Coppin State
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 75. The guard is currently first all-time in games played (114), second in 3-pointers made (221), second in 3-point attempts (559), third in blocks (57), third in minutes played (3,594), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.395), seventh in field goals attempted (1,076) and ninth in field goals (.443). 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 assists.
DANE TRAIN: NOW BOARDING...AND SCORING
Dane DiLiegro, who is currently second in the conference in offensive rebounds per game (2.9) and fifth in rebounding overall (7.0 rpg), is averaging 5.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, better than his numbers of 4.5 points and 6.0 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 27 tilts this season. DiLiegro has improved his efficiency as well, shooting 55.1percent 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.