January 13, 2010

MEN'S BASKETBALL DROPS ALBANY, 67-59

DURHAM, N.H. - Juniors Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) and Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) each scored 13 points to lead five Wildcats in double figures as the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team defeated the University at Albany, 67-59, Wednesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium.

Alvin Abreu

The Wildcats snap a three-game skid to improve to 6-8 on the season, including 1-2 in America East play. The ‘Cats also better their home record to 6-1 to match their best start through seven games in Durham since the 1997-98 season. They are 9-1 in their last 10 at Lundholm. The Great Danes, who lose to UNH for the fourth time in five meetings, including three straight, fall to 5-13 overall and 0-3 in the conference.

UNH had five scorers with 10 or more points in a game for the first time since Jan. 4, 2004 when Craig Walls (14), Marcus Bullock (12), Blagoj Janev (11), Griffin Walker (11) and Roland Williams (10) all scored in double digits at home against Northeastern.

DiLiegro, UNH's America East Player of the Game, pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds to record his second double-double in the last three games, while Abreu added three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) netted a career-high 11 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Senior Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) posted 10 points and six boards and classmate Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) also chipped in with 10 points.

Will Harris, Albany's America East Player of the Game, led the Great Danes with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

After a 15-0 Albany run that cut UNH's lead to 50-48 with 4:23 remaining in the game, the Wildcats stayed tough and widened their lead. DiLiegro stopped the bleeding when he slipped free inside, took a feed from Abreu and hammered the ball down with two hands to score the Wildcats' first points in a span of 8:16. Santos then followed with a huge 3-pointer that made it 55-48 with just under three minutes to go.

A pair of free throws cut it to five before junior Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) knocked down a 3 to make it 58-50 at 2:08. After Tim Ambrose made a layup that cut UNH's lead to 59-54 with 1:06 left, Graham made a pair at the line, but Logan Aronhalt drilled a 3-pointer to slice it to four with 50 seconds on the clock. Graham then missed both at the stripe, but Conley came up with a giant steal for his team. Looking like a free safety, Conley went up and snatched Ambrose's long pass with one hand before he quickly got it to Graham, who this time sank both at the stripe to give the Wildcats a 63-57 lead with 41 seconds to play.

Russell Graham

The Wildcats came up with another steal, this time from Santos, who drew the foul and made both free throws to push the lead to eight. Albany hit 1 of 2 at the line when DiLiegro sank both to make it 67-58 with 17 seconds left. Harris closed the scoring with a free throw at the seven-second mark. UNH went 8-for-10 at the line in the final 1:03 of the game.

Conley finished with seven points.

UNH nearly led wire-to-wire, but ended up leading for the final 35:44 of the contest. After starting out in a 3-0 hole, Albany received back-to-back baskets from Harris and Brent Gifford to take a one-point lead at 16:54. Abreu buried a 3-pointer to put UNH up two, but Mike Johnson came back with a layup that tied it at six with 16:09 to play in the opening half. Graham sparked an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer, however, giving the Wildcats the lead for good. Junior James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) followed with another 3 before Santos capped the run with a layup - taking a feed from freshman Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.), who finished with three assists - to make it 14-6 at 12:24.

Albany responded with a 10-3 run - the three UNH points coming on a beautiful three-point play from Abreu - to slice the Wildcat lead to 17-16 at 8:28. Onguetou halted the run with a 3-pointer to push the lead to four, before a driving layup by Conley later made it 24-18 with 5:11 to play. After a Harris 3-pointer cut it to two, however, Onguetou came back with another 3, followed by an Abreu layup that opened the lead to 30-23 at 2:46.

An Aronhalt layup got Albany to within five as time was winding down, but Graham found an open Abreu, who buried a 3-pointer with 13 seconds on the clock to close the scoring and send his team into the locker room with a 34-26 lead. The Wildcats improved to 6-0 when leading at the half.

The Wildcats wasted no time expanding their lead in the second half, ripping off an 8-0 run - with six points from DiLiegro - to seize a 42-26 lead with 16:35 remaining. After another Harris trey cut it to 11, baskets by Onguetou, Graham and Santos gave UNH its largest lead of the night at 50-33 with 12:01 to play. From there, however, Albany would go on their 15-0 run - with six points from Aronhalt and four from Ambrose - to get right back in the game. The Wildcat defense held strong, however, forcing the Great Danes to shoot 2-for-7 in the final 4:23 after the big run.

Aronhalt and Ambrose each chipped in with 12 and 10, respectively, for the Great Danes.

The Wildcats outshot Albany, 38.5 percent (20-52) to 36.4 percent (20-55). Albany held advantages on the glass (37-36), in the paint (28-16) and in bench scoring (29-13), while both teams turned the ball over just nine times. The ‘Cats, who own the league's top defense, improved to 6-2 when holding their opponent under 60 points, and 5-1 when forcing their opponent to shoot under 40 percent from the floor.

The Wildcats return to action Saturday, Jan. 16 at 4 p.m. when they travel to take on the University of Hartford at Chase Arena.

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