ALBANY, N.Y. – The fourth-seeded University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will face off with top-seeded Binghamton University in the semifinals of the America East Championship on Sunday, March 8 at 5 p.m. at SEFCU Arena. The game will be aired live on Comcast SportsNet and Time Warner Sports, and will also be broadcast live on the UNH Sports Network, with the link available at www.UNHWildcats.com. The Wildcats and Bearcats meet for just the 17th time in their short conference rivarly, with Binghamton leading the all-time series,12-4. The Bearcats have won eight of the last nine matchups, including five straight. Binghamton is also 7-1 at Lundholm Gymnasium, having won seven straight after losing its first game there Feb. 2, 2002. On the road, the Wildcats are losing the series, 5-3, but have been victorious in three of their past six contests at the Events Center. In the most recent meeting, the Wildcats dropped a heartbreaking 70-69 decision in overtime in front of 5,222 fans – the largest regular-season crowd in the history of the Events Center.
LAST TIME OUT
Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs and sophomore guard Tyrone Conley scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, to lead the fourth-seeded Wildcats to a 76-73 win against No. 5 Stony Brook University in the quarterfinal round of the America East Championship on March 7 at SEFCU Arena.
The Wildcats, who have won five of their last six games, improved to 14-15 on the season and advanced to just their sixth semifinal in school history versus No. 1 Binghamton University. UNH improved to 13-5 all-time against Stony Brook after beating the Seawolves for the third time this season and second time in six days. The Wildcats, who were 58-57 victors in overtime March 1 at Lundholm Gymnasium, defeated SBU for the fifth straight game and ninth time in the last 10 contests. The ‘Cats beat their first-round opponent after sweeping them in the regular season for the first time since the 1984-85 season when they defeated Colgate University three times, including the NAC first-round game. Stony Brook fell to 16-14 overall.
Head coach Bill Herrion, who owns the most America East Championship victories ever, improved to 20-8 (.714) all-time in the tournament and advanced to his second semifinal while at the helm for UNH. Herrion also moved to 8-1 (.889) all-time against Stony Brook, whom the Wildcats had previously never faced in the tournament.
Gibbs added eight rebounds and three assists in the game, while Conley pulled down five rebounds and matched a career high with six assists. Gibbs extended his double-digit scoring streak to a career-best eight games, during which he is averaging 17.8 points per game. Gibbs, whose previous seven-game streak lasted from Feb. 20, 2008-Nov. 29, 2008, has not been held under 10 points since Feb. 4 against Hartford.
Leading by four with 33 seconds left, the Wildcats received a huge lift from Gibbs. The captain tried to drive to the basket from the top of the key, but was fouled on his way there. Gibbs, upon hearing the whistle, hung in the air and threw up a circus shot that banked off the window and went in. Gibbs converted the three-point play at the line to give UNH a 75-68 lead.
Just like the previous two meetings this year, however, Stony Brook did not go away as it received a 3-pointer from Muhammad El-Amin to cut the deficit to four with 20 seconds left. Tommy Brenton then added a basket to cut UNH’s lead to 75-73 with seven seconds on the clock. The Seawolves sent senior guard Eric Gilchrese to the line, where he would hit one of two to put the Wildcats up three with six seconds remaining. El-Amin gave Stony Brook one last shot, but his 3 missed the mark and was fittingly corralled by Gibbs as time expired. Gilchrese also scored in double digits for UNH with 12 points to go along with two rebounds and two assists.
With the Wildcats leading 42-38 at the break, Gibbs, who scored just three points in the first half, came out of the locker room on fire. Gibbs opened with a jumper from the foul line, and after a three-point play by Brian Dougher, drained back-to-back 3-pointers to give his team a 50-41 advantage at 18:24.
After Stony Brook had cut it to five, the Wildcats scored eight straight – capped by consecutive treys from Conley – to take their largest lead of the game at 60-47 with 12:18 remaining. Sparked by an El-Amin 3, however, Stony Brook responded with a 7-0 run of its own to slice the deficit to six at 9:23.
Gibbs, who netted 15 in the second half, stepped up again, sinking one of his four 3-pointers on the night and adding a free throw to end the run and give UNH a 64-54 lead at 6:37. After a Dougher layup cut it to single digits, Gilchrese knocked down a triple to bump the lead back to 11.
Stony Brook bounced back again, however, scoring five straight to make it 67-61 at 3:26. Down seven a minute and a half later, the Seawolves received a big 3 from Demetrius Young, who only scored those three points the entire game, to chip UNH’s lead down to 70-66. The teams, which nearly played into the following morning, then traded points on consecutive possessions to set up Gibbs’ miracle shot that helped the Wildcats seal the win. UNH improved to 9-1 when leading at halftime.
After Stony Brook had jumped out to a 6-0 lead two minutes into the game, Gilchrese sparked an 11-2 run with a 3-pointer that got UNH on the board. Conley then followed with his first of four treys that tied the game before junior forward Radar Onguetou converted an old fashioned three-point play to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game. The teams then traded a pair at the line to close the run with UNH up 11-8 at 16:05.
The squads continued to go back and forth, with baskets from sophomore center James Valladares and sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua giving UNH an 18-14 lead at 12:43. Brenton cut the lead in half with a layup before Dougher drilled a 3 to give Stony Brook a 19-18 edge at 10:27. Valladares came right back and gave UNH the lead for good with a jumper midway through the opening frame that sparked an 8-2 run. Conley and freshman guard Russell Graham each scored three points to fill out the rest of the run that ended with the Wildcats on top 28-21 with 8:08 to play.
El-Amin cut the deficit to four with an old fashioned three-point play, before Valladares sank a baseline jumper. El-Amin then picked up another basket, but Gibbs scored his only points of the half when he knocked down a 3-pointer that put his team up 33-26 at 6:16.
After a Tchatchoua layup pushed the lead to nine at 3:02, Stony Brook scored seven straight to get within 39-37 with 1:17 to go in the half. Graham buried a huge 3 from the left wing to give UNH some breathing room before a Seawolve free throw with 18 seconds left capped the scoring and sent the teams to the half with the Wildcats up 42-38.
Onguetou chipped in with seven points and six rebounds, while Valladares matched a career high with a season-best six points. Tchatchoua posted six points and four boards and Graham tallied six points, two rebounds and two assists. Sophomore center Dane DiLiegro added five points and four rebounds despite being in foul trouble for most of the game.
Gibbs scored his 1,300th point in the contest, finishing the night with 1,311 career points, which leaves him 29 shy of tying former teammate Blagoj Janev for fourth place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. Gibbs also upped his conference-leading 3-point field goals made total to 85 for the season, which is second all-time in a single campaign at UNH and just two shy of Matt Alosa’s record 87 treys during the 1994-95 season.
The Wildcats, who posted season highs against Division I opponents in points (78), field goal percentage (.568) and 3-point field goal percentage (.600) in their earlier trip to SEFCU this season when they faced Albany on Feb. 15, evidently feel very comfortable in the building as they outshot Stony Brook, 45 percent (24-53) to 43 percent (26-61), including 37 percent (11-30) to 29 percent (6-21) from deep. The rebounding battle was even at 37 apiece, while the Seawolves turned the ball over three fewer times (5) than UNH (8).
El-Amin led Stony Brook with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Dougher added 17.
With their 76-73 win against Stony Brook in the quarterfinals March 7, the Wildcats advanced to their sixth ever semifinal and second in four years. The ‘Cats will take on No. 1 Binghamton, who they have never faced in the tournament. If UNH can defeat the Bearcats, it will earn a berth into its first ever title game, which it will host at Lundholm Gymnasium on March 14 against the winner of No. 6 UMBC and No. 7 Albany.
With the 76-73 win against Stony Brook in the quarterfinals March 7, Bill Herrion became the third UNH head coach to advance to two semifinal games during his tenure, and just the second to make two semifinals in a four-year span. Gerry Friel appeared in the semifinals in the 1982-83 and 1987-88 seasons, while Gib Chapman made back-to-back semifinal appearances in 1993-94 and 1994-95.
The Wildcats have one win all-time against teams with a No. 1 seed in the tournament. In 1988, No. 8 UNH upset top-ranked Siena, 70-63, March 8.
There is something about SEFCU Arena that makes the Wildcats feel comfortable. On Feb. 15, the Wildcats defeated Albany, 78-59, scoring their largest win of the season over a Divsion I opponent and handing the Great Danes their worst loss in the 16-year history of SEFCU. The ‘Cats reached season highs against DI foes in points (78), field goal percentage (.568) and 3-point field goal percentage (.600), while knocking down the second most 3s this season (12). UNH also attained season bests in 3-point field goal percentage against and 3-point field goals made against, holding Albany to nine percent shooting from deep on just one trey. In their March 7 quarterfinal game against Stony Brook, the Wildcats scored 76 points on 45 percent shooting, including 37 percent from deep with 11 treys.
BREAKOUT THE BROOMS
The fourth-seeded Wildcats, who beat No. 5 Stony Brook, 76-73, in the quarterfinal round of the America East tournament March 7, swept the Seawolves during the regular season with a 71-60 win on the road Jan. 28 and a 58-57 overtime victory at home March 1. The last time the Wildcats swept their first-round opponent during the regular season and then beat them in the tournament was the 1984-85 season when they beat Colgate in three straight contests, including the NAC first round game.
HERRION SILENCING THE SEAWOLVES
Head coach Bill Herrion owns an 8-1 record all-time versus Stony Brook and has won five straight against the Seawolves. Herrion has only faced Stony Brook while at the helm for UNH.
You could say UNH Head Coach Bill Herrion knows what it takes to win in the America East tournament. Herrion, who is making his 12th appearance overall, is the all-time winningest coach in the tournament with 20 wins. His 20-8 record is good for a .714 winning percentage, which is first among active America East coaches, first among anyone with at least 10 tournament appearances and fifth overall all-time. Herrion’s three America East titles are also first among active America East coaches and second all-time only to current UConn head coach Jim Calhoun. In eight appearances with Drexel from 1991 to 1999, Herrion was 18-5 while capturing three titles. He is 2-3 in three appearances with UNH.
HANDING OUT THE HARDWARE
At its annual awards banquet March 6, America East announced that Tyrece Gibbs had been named to the All-Conference Second Team, while Radar Onguetou was tabbed for the All-Academic Team. Gibbs, who was selected to the Third Team last season, is the first Wildcat to garner Second Team honors since former teammate Blagoj Janev in 2007. Onguetou, a political science major with a 3.41 grade-point average – the highest on the five-member team – was recently honored for owning the highest GPA in his major.
After being picked seventh in the preseason poll, the Wildcats finished the season tied for fourth and also earned the No. 4 seed for the America East tournament with their 58-57 overtime victory versus Stony Brook on March 1. It is the program’s best finish and highest seeding for the tournament since the 2001-02 team finished fourth and garnered the No. 4 seed, as well.
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 and are currently 2-0 (1.000) in March.
In a season that has been the program’s most successful in nearly 15 years, the term “best since...” never stops being used. The Wildcats’ 8-5 record at Lundholm Gymnasium this season was the best since UNH had the same 8-5 home mark during the 1997-98 season. Their 5-10 away record was also the best in five years as they matched the 2003-04 team that also went 5-10 outside of Durham.
JUST A COINCIDENCE?
Including the March 8 semifinal game versus Binghamton, the Wildcats, who have won five of their last six, have played on television in six of their last eight contests.
RANDOM "UNH RECORD WHEN..." TIDBITS
The Wildcats are 12-2 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 9-1 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.
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 11 in scoring. Tyrece Gibbs is eighth at 14.5 points per game, while Alvin Abreu is 11th at 12.8 ppg.
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 (+1.6). The ‘Cats, who are 9-5 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 (39.0 rpg) and rebounding margin (+8.8). 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 (7.9) and 77th in scoring defense (64.0). Individually, Tyrece Gibbs is 38th in 3-pointers per game (2.9) and 41st in the nation in field goal percentage (40.1).
TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS
Heading into tonight’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 522 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 698 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 26 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 19.
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 4.8 points in the opening frame and 7.9 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 17.8 points per game during his eight-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, broke the mark when he scored 18 points versus Stony Brook on March 7 to extend a streak he started Feb. 7 to eight games. Gibbs has now scored in double figures in 28 of his last 33 games dating back to last season, including 24 of 29 this season.
DURHAM THREE PARTY
Tyrece Gibbs is currently first in the conference in 3-pointers made with 85, which is the second most in a single season at UNH.
Tyrece Gibbs scored 18 points versus Stony Brook on March 7 to bring his career total to 1,311 points and move within 29 points of former
teammate Blagoj Janev, who sits in fourth place on UNH’s all-time scoring list with 1,340 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 the only Wildcat in history to amass at least 1,300 points, 500 rebounds, 225 assists, 80 steals and 50 blocks. Gibbs has totaled 1,311 points, 502 rebounds, 245 assists, 90 steals and 58 blocks over the course of his career.
GIBBS AE'S FOURTH ACTIVE LEADING SCORER
America East Active Scoring Leaders
Mike Trimboli (Vermont) 1,976
Darryl Proctor (UMBC) 1,913*
Corey Lowe (Boston U.) 1,334
Tyrece Gibbs (UNH) 1,311
Marqus Blakely (Vermont) 1,229
Jay Greene (UMBC) 1,150
Joe Zeglinski (Hartford) 1,099
Mark Socoby (Maine) 1,013
*1,112 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 third 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 second on UNH’s single-season 3-pointers made list with 85 and just two short of the record. The guard is currently first all-time in games played (116), second in minutes played (3,673), second in 3-pointers made (231), second in 3-point attempts (585), third in blocks (58), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.395), sixth in field goals attempted (1,109) and eighth in field goals (456). 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 (6.9 rpg), is averaging 5.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, better than his numbers of 4.2 points and 6.3 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 29 tilts this season.
DiLiegro has improved his efficiency as well, shooting 54.2 percent from the field as compared to his mark of 46.7 percent last year.
TURNING THE CORNER
With their 58-57 overtime victory versus Stony Brook on March 1, the Wildcats wrapped up their best regular season in 14 years as they finished with a 13-15 record, including 8-8 in America East play. The 13 wins are the most since UNH recorded 19 during the 1994-95 season, while the 8-8 conference record marks just the second .500 conference campaign in seven years and the first since the 2005-06 season when head coach Bill Herrion guided his squad to a 12-17 overall record and an 8-8 mark in the conference.
The Wildcats won four of their last five games down the stretch to position themselves for the fourth seed in the America East tournament. It was the best finish to a regular season for the program in nearly 15 years as the 1994-95 team went 8-1 to wrap up its regular season.
After a pair of 8-8 conference finishes in 2005-06 and 2008-09, Bill Herrion is the first UNH head coach to post two .500 conference campaigns in four years since Gib Chapman in 1993-94 and 1994-95.
GIBBS NABS PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD
Tyrece Gibbs was named the America East Player of the Week on March 2. Gibbs stepped up and played like the senior captain he is when his team needed him most, leading the Wildcats to a pair of come-from-behind home wins during the week that gave the program its highest seed for the America East tournament in seven years. Gibbs helped erase a seven-point deficit with timely shooting, including 4 of 8 from deep, to lift UNH to a win against Albany on Feb. 26 with 20 points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Gibbs then played even bigger on Senior Day, erasing a six-point deficit versus Stony Brook on March 1 with big shot after big shot, including the one that tied it in regulation and won it in overtime, to lead the Wildcats to their fourth win in five games, as well as the No. 4 seed – their highest since the 2001-02 season – at the America East tournament. Gibbs matched his career high with six 3-pointers en route to 21 points to go along with a career-high 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals in 44 minutes.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR CAPTAIN GIBBS
Tyrece Gibbs recorded his third career double-double when he scored 21 points and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds versus Stony Brook on March 1. Gibbs’ previous double-doubles came when he recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds at Vermont on Jan. 25 and in an overtime contest against Harvard on Nov. 29, 2006 at Lundholm Gymnasium when he tallied the same 10 and 10.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.