DURHAM, N.H. - Junior Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) and freshman Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) led five scorers in double digits with 14 points apiece as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team opened its season Saturday night with a 91-45 win against Suffolk University at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats win their third straight home opener and start off the season 1-0 for the second consecutive year.
DiLiegro, the America East Player of the Game, recorded the sixth double-double of his career as
he pulled down 15 rebounds in 22 minutes. The center was 4-for-7 from the floor and a career-best 6 of 8 from the line. Rhoads, meanwhile, played very well in his first collegiate game, tallying three rebounds, five assists and four steals in 23 minutes.
Rhoads got the Wildcats going with a layup to start the game before finding junior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) in transition for another layup that made it 4-0. UNH's next bucket came when junior Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) slid a pass underneath the basket to DiLiegro, who finished with a two-handed dunk. Rhoads converted another layup before Abreu found sophomore Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) for another dunk that gave the Wildcats a 10-4 lead 2:40 into the contest.
Leading 19-9 with just over 13 minutes to play in the opening half, the Wildcats crafted a 12-2 run that was sparked when sophomore Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) found senior Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) for a transition layup, and then a 3-pointer on the wing. Senior Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) capped the stretch with a trey that made the Wildcat lead an even 20 at 10:40.
UNH still led by 20, 34-14, with 8:36 to play when Conley and Benson each recorded a layup and a 3-pointer to combine for the Wildcats' next 10 points as they grabbed a 44-18 lead with 3:40 to play in the first half. Freshman Chris Matagrano (Sayreville, N.J.) capped the UNH scoring with a layup at 1:27 as the ‘Cats took a 46-23 lead into the break. Benson scored all nine of his points and pulled in five of his six rebounds in 12 first-half minutes, while Matagrano posted two of his four points and both of his rebounds in 10 minutes in the frame. Benson and Matagrano played well on the defensive end where they combined for five of UNH's six blocks in the first half.
Abreu opened the second-half scoring with his first field goal of the game, a 3-pointer at 18:55. Suffolk would whittle the UNH lead to 51-30 with 15:31 remaining, but the Wildcats would take over from there as they went on an 18-0 run to take a commanding 69-30 lead at 9:12. An alley-oop dunk from Graham to Conley sparked the run and brought the Lundholm crowd to its feet. DiLiegro had a pair of buckets during the run, while Santos converted an old-fashioned three-point play midway through and then capped the stretch with another layup.
UNH led 73-37 two minutes later when freshman Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) reeled in an offensive rebound and layed the ball in to kick off an 11-1 run, which was capped by a Matagrano jumper that put the Wildcats on top 84-38 with 4:44 to play.
Junior James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) knocked down a jumper and Myrick drilled a 3 before Rhoads capped the scoring with a pair of free throws to make it 91-45 with 11 seconds on the clock.
Abreu finished with 12 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 27 minutes, while Conley filled the stat line with 11 points, a rebound, two assists, a block and a steal in 27 minutes. Santos scored 10 points in 14 minutes and Onguetou tallied eight points on 2 of 2 shooting from behind the arc and at the line to go along with eight boards. Graham tallied two points, two rebounds and six assists, and was dogged on the defensive end as he constantly pressured the ball and recorded two steals. Myrick posted five points, three boards, an assist and a steal in seven minutes, while Valladares finished with two points in six minutes.
The Wildcats shot 48 percent from the floor (32-67), while holding Suffolk to just 29 percent shooting (17-58). As a team, the ‘Cats tallied 22 assists on 32 baskets, won the battle on the boards, 49-40, and had 10 turnovers to Suffolk's 22.
Karl Busch led Suffolk with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
UNH returns to action Friday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. when they take on the University of Maryland at the Comcast Center.