MEN'S BASKETBALL GAME NOTES VS. UMBC
COMPLETE NOTES | LIVE STATS | LIVE AUDIO

DURHAM, N.H.
-- The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will meet UMBC on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at RAC Arena. The Wildcats and Retrievers meet for just the 11th time in their conference rivarly, with UNH leading the all-time series, 6-4, despite the fact that UMBC has won the last three meetings. The ‘Cats have won three of the last four meetings at RAC Arena. In the most recent meeting Jan. 6, 2008, junior Tyrece Gibbs led four scorers in double digits, including two with at least 20 points, but theWildcats fell, 86-73, to UMBC to close out its five-game home stand at Lundholm Gymnasium.
      
Fresh off a 19-point performance against Albany, Gibbs tied his career high with 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting from behind the arc. Gibbs, who added six rebounds in his 39 minutes of work, also tied a career high with the six 3-pointers.
      
Freshman guard Alvin Abreu backed up Gibbs’ effort with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while playing an entire 40 minutes for the second consecutive game.
      
UNH, which surprised a few people with its win against two-time defending champion Albany on Jan. 3, hung with what most are calling the best team in the conference in UMBC for 37 minutes. The ‘Cats had the lead (62-61) as late as 8:30 remaining in the contest until UMBC outscored UNH, 25-11, over the final eight minutes to close out the game.
      
The Wildcats showed a lot of heart in the game, twice coming back from eight-point deficits, including the one that gave them their final lead. Trailing by eight midway through the second half, freshman guard Tyrone Conley hit back-to-back treys before Abreu, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, gave the Wildcats the lead with a 3 of his own. Conley chipped in with 10 points in 19 minutes in his return from illness.
   
Senior forward Mike Christensen produced a solid stat line by tallying 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
   
UMBC matched UNH’s four double-digit scorers, but had three that scored at least 20 points. Cavell Johnson equaled Gibbs with 22 points, while UMBC’s America East Player of the Game Darryl Proctor and Brian Hodges each dropped 21. Proctor also pulled down 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats took care of the ball, recording just eight turnovers, which is the fewest amount all season. UMBC turned the ball over just six times, however.
      
UNH also continued its hot free throw shooting, hitting on 16-of-18 from the stripe (89 percent), but was outshot from the field, 55 percent (33-60) to 39 percent (22-57).

LAST TIME OUT

Senior forward Mike Christensen recorded his second double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and freshman guard Alvin Abreu nearly posted a triple-double to propel the Wildcats to a 74-67 America East victory against Stony Brook on Feb. 20 at University at Lundholm Gymnasium.
   
UNH completed the season sweep of the Seawolves – the Wildcats were 68-60 victors Jan. 30 – to improve to 8-18, including 5-9 in America East. SBU fell to 5-21 overall and 2-12 in the conference.
      
Abreu, who was one of four Wildcats to reach double-digits in the game, netted 18 points, tied his career high with eight rebounds and dished out a career-best nine assists to garner America East Player of the Game honors for the ‘Cats. Christensen pulled down his 500th career rebound with his 11th board of the night and also handed out two assists, leaving him one shy of 200 helpers for his career.
      
The Wildcats finally got out to the quick start they have been looking for, getting 3-pointers from freshman guard Tyrone Conley, Abreu and Christensen, to take a 9-0 lead 2:26 into the game. UNH used three more treys to craft a 10-2 run and went on top 22-9 with 11:22 left in the opening half. The ‘Cats knocked down a season-high 15 trifectas, which is just two shy of the school record, and extended their streak to 485 consecutive games with at least one 3.
      
Stony Brook’s Ricky Lucas scored all 10 of his first-half points in the final 4:51 of the half to help the Seawolves cut the deficit to eight (34-26) heading into the break.
      
A 12-3 Wildcat run, highlighted by 3s from Conley, Christensen and two from junior guard Tyrece Gibbs, opened up a 53-37 advantage 6:56 into the second frame. Conley scored 15 points in a career-high 39 minutes, while Gibbs tallied 13 points, three rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal.
      
With UNH’s lead at a game-high 17 (62-45) with 6:07 remaining, the Seawolves – much like in the previous meeting between the two teams – used a 15-5 run to close the gap to 67-60 with 1:27 left. The Wildcats made 7-of-10 from the line the rest of the way, however, to close out the game.
      
Lucas, Stony Brook’s America East Player of the Game, finished with 24 points, four rebounds and two assists.
     
UNH, which out-rebounded Stony Brook, 35-31, shot 43 percent (20-47) from the field, including 48 percent (15-31) from behind the arc. The Seawolves shot 45 percent (24-53) from the floor and 42 percent (8-19) from long range.
   
Christensen, who before the game was given the game ball that he scored his 1,000th career point with by head coach Bill Herrion, now finished the game with 1,032 career points and moved past Marcus Bullock (1,015), Eric Thielen (1,019), Dirk Koopman (1,023), Paul Dufour (1,026) and Derek Counts (1,026), and into 18th on UNH’s all-time scoring list. With one more assist, the captain will be just the second player in UNH history to tally 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in a career. Dan Nolan posted 1,258 points, 826 rebounds and 219 assists from 1980 to 1984.

POINTS, REBOUNDS, ASSISTS, OH MY!

Senior Mike Christensen currently has recorded 1,014 points, 501 rebounds and 199 assists in his career. With one more assist, Christensen will become just the second player in the history of UNH men’s basketball to tally at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in a career. Dan Nolan posted 1,258 points, 826 rebounds and 219 assists from 1980 to 1984.

ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR CHRISTENSEN


Senior forward Mike Christensen recorded his 500th career rebound when he pulled down his 11th board of the night against Stony Brook on Feb. 20. Christensen, who joined the 1,000-point club against Binghamton on Feb. 14, needs just one more assist to reach the 200 plateau.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR CAPTAIN CHRISTENSEN


Senior forward Mike Christensen posted his second double-double of the season Feb. 20 against Stony Brook when he poured in 18 points and tallied 12 rebounds. The captain’s first double-double of the season came Jan. 12 against Vermont when he netted 17 points and ripped down a career-high 14 rebounds.   
   
Freshman center Dane DiLiegro recorded the first double-double this season when he posted career-highs in points and rebounds, with 12 apiece, Dec. 3 versus Northeastern.

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS

Heading into tonight’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 485 consecutive games, a streak that spans 17 years. The last time the ‘Cats have not tallied 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.

NATIONALLY RANKED

The Wildcats are ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a pair of categories. Their 8.9 3-pointers per game is good for 19th in the nation, while their free throw percentage of 71.4 is good for 93rd in the country. UNH’s 3-point field goal percentage of 36.8 places them just outside the top 100 at 111th.
   
Junior guard Tyrece Gibbs ranks 61st with a 3-point field goal percentage of 40.1 and 73rd with 2.7 treys per game.

WE LIKE MIKE

How much does the play of senior captain Mike Christensen affect the play of the Wildcats? Seven of the Wildcats’ eight wins have come when Christensen has scored at least 10 points.

ABREU BACK ON TRACK


Freshman guard Alvin Abreu looks to have righted the ship. After having his seven-game double-digit scoring streak —  the longest streak on the team this season — snapped Jan. 24 versus Binghamton, Abreu reeled off three consecutive games of 10 or more points. Abreu, who leads all America East Rookies in scoring, has scored in double digits in 14 of his last 20 games, and 19 of 26 overall.

BLOCK PARTY

After owning a career high of two blocks after two-and-a-half seasons, junior guard Tyrece Gibbs set a new career high with three blocks versus Boston University on Feb. 2, and then recorded another three blocks the very next game at Albany on Feb. 6.

FAN FRENZY

The 1,852 fans that took in the game between the Wildcats and Boston University Terriers on Feb. 2 at Lundholm Gymnasium were the most to fill Lundholm since 1,873 people witnessed the ‘Cats play host to the University of Maine on Feb. 3, 2007.

FROM BEGINNING TO END


What connection could senior Mike Christensen and the head coach of the UNH men’s soccer team, Rob Thompson, possibly have? Before moving on to play his final two years of high school basketball at Flint Hill, Christensen played his first two years at South Lakes High School in Reston, Va. Thompson received his first coaching gig at South Lakes, coaching the JV soccer team. In the end, both wound up at UNH where they have had great careers. Another South Lakes alumn? The Phoenix Suns’ Grant Hill.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

Senior captain Mike Christensen has stepped up his game as of late, leading the Wildcats on the court when they need it most. After a scoreless first half against Hartford on Jan. 27, Christensen scored 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the arc in the second half to lead the ‘Cats to a 74-59 victory. Christensen again helped his squad pick up a W Jan. 30 at Stony Brook, netting 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while adding five rebounds, two assists and a block en route to a 68-60 win.

ABREU GARNERS SECOND WEEKLY CONFERENCE HONOR

The America East conference announced Jan. 7 that freshman guard Alvin Abreu was named America East Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Week for the week ending Jan. 6. This is the second time Abreu has garnered the honor this season.
       
Abreu averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists over the course of two games during the week. Abreu helped the ‘Cats win their first conference opener since beating Vermont, 75-68, on Dec. 3, 1997, by scoring 14 points and pulling down six rebounds in 40 minutes of a 75-66 win over Albany on Jan. 3. Abreu then submitted his second 20-point performance of the season, and tallied eight rebounds and four assists in his second consecutive 40-minute effort, as UNH fell to UMBC – the top team in the conference – 86-73 Jan. 6.
      
Abreu also won the award Dec. 10, when he averaged 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in games against Northeastern University and Brown University.

THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

When the Wildcats defeated two-time defending America East champion Albany, 75-66, on Jan. 3, they not only won their conference opener for the first time since Dec. 3, 1997 when they defeated Vermont, 75-68, but they grabbed their first win of the year when trailing at halftime, and when being outscored in the paint. Coming into the game, the ‘Cats were 0-6 in both categories.

'CATS INK PLAYER DURING EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

The Wildcats announced Wednesday, Nov. 14  that Brian Benson has signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period, and will attend UNH and play for the program beginning in the 2008-09 academic year.
   
Benson, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Greece-Athena High School in Rochester, N.Y., was a 2007 All-Greater Rochester all-star selection after averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Section V Class AA champions.
   
Benson should help the ‘Cats in the frontcourt, with senior forward Mike Christensen graduating in the spring.
    
“We are happy with Brian’s decision to join our basketball program,” UNH men’s basketball Head Coach Bill Herrion said. “He comes from a very successful high school program and has been very well-coached. Brian really fits one of our recruiting needs. He is athletic, can run the floor and is a good rebounder. He also gives us depth with our frontcourt.”

2007-08 OUTLOOK

University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion enters his third season as the leader of the program and with seven newcomers added to the program, this could be his most difficult challenge to date.  UNH compiled a 10-20 record last season, which translated into a seventh-place finish in the America East Conference. The Wildcats fell for a second straight season to the eventual America East champions - the University at Albany.
   
Despite losing two talented America East All-Conference performers in Blagoj Janev and Jermaine Anderson, the Wildcats bring back three starters from the 2006-07 campaign. Senior Mike Christensen (Reston, Va.), along with junior Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) and sophomore Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) look to lead a very young group of ‘Cats to the promise land as the captains for the 2007-08 season. Christensen returns from a season-ending foot injury, which he suffered Jan. 9 during a pivotal conference match up with Vermont. The senior forward posted 13.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in 15 appearances, including a 28-point performance the game before he endured the injury. Gibbs, who started 28 of 29 games last season, averaged 9.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He stepped his game up in a major way offensively when Christensen went down with his foot injury. Gibbs scored in double-digits in eight of the last 13 games. Onguetou showed the greatest improvement over the course of the season. He made 18 starts in 30 appearances and became the team’s leading offensive rebounder. Onguetou posted a double-double against Dartmouth College and scored a career-high 15 points against Hartford.
   
The Wildcats also bring back senior Shawn Tobey (Eliot, Maine). Tobey’s work ethic landed him in coach Herrion’s starting lineup towards the end of the season, including a start in the America East Quarterfinal round. Sophomore Joe Cheslock (Dover, N.H.) also returns to the program, and will vie for playing time at the shooting guard and small forward positions.
   
In addition to the returning veterans, Herrion introduces seven newcomers to the program. Junior college-transfer Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) comes to New Hampshire after two years at Lewis & Clark Community College. The Trailblazers finished fourth in the 2007 NJCAA Men’s Division II National Tournament and had Gilchrese named to the All-Tournament Team. Gilchrese averaged 14.0 points, 4.0 rrebounds and 5.0 assists per game during the 2006-07 season. Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) and Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) add depth at the guard position. Conley is a 6-foot-2-inch wing player from Burlington High School. Conley is BHS’ all-time leading scorer with 1,566 points an was named to the All-State Team during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Conley averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game during his high school career. Abreu joins the Wildcats out of Boys to Men in Chicago. Abreu averaged 20 points and eight rebounds per game while at Lynn Classical High School, and was a North Eastern Conference All-Star. He averaged 14.0 points per game in 2006-07 at Boys to Men, which was ranked one of the top five schools in the nation that season.
   
In addition to the three guards, UNH adds forwards Rony Tchatchoua  (Douala, Cameroon), Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) and James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas). Tchatchoua is a 6-6 power forward from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, who was league MVP when his high school, Little Rock Christian Academy, captured the state championship in 2005. He was named to the All-State Team, as well as being selected a McDonald’s All-American in 2006. DiLiegro, a 6-8 power forward/center from Worcester Academy, was three-time Middlesex League Champion while at Lexington High School. DiLiegro was a Middlesex League All-Star his senior year after he averaged 11.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game. Valladares is a 6-8 forward out of Kaufman High School, where he averaged 19.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game last season. Valladares was District MVP his senior year, District Defensive Player of the Year his junior year and District Newcomer of the Year his sophomore year when he was also named First Team All-Region.        The Wildcats also welcome junior transfer Colbey Santos (East Wareham, Mass.) from James Madison University. Santos will sit out the 2007-08 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.
   
The Wildcats also made a coaching staff change as they welcomed newly appointed associate head coach Ken Dempsey to the program. Dempsey spent the last six seasons as the men’s basketball Associate Head Coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dempsey also served as the University of North Carolina-Greensboro assistant coach from 1999-2001. Dempsey is familiar with the Northeast region, having served as the assistant coach at Northeastern University from 1994-1999. Prior to joining the staff at Northeastern, Dempsey was an assistant coach at Monmouth (N.J.) University from 1984-94. The players he recruited earned 21 all-conference selections and helped the team to three conference championship game appearances.
   
Dempsey is a proven, self-directed and high-profile coaching/recruiting professional with over 24 years of full-time leadership experience at the previous listed Division I institutions. Dempsey has a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country by numerous national recruiting and coaching publications and boasts a 100-percent graduation rate among student-athletes recruited. Each of Dempsey’s past four recruiting classes at UMKC were ranked as one of the nation’s top 100 by Hoop Scoop Online.
   
As recruiting coordinator for head coach Wayne Szoke at Monmouth for eight seasons, Dempsey’s recruiting efforts produced the school’s all-time Division I scoring co-leaders, seven of the school’s top-10 Division I scoring leaders and a GTE Academic all-American. Dempsey also serves actively on the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Board of Directors.
       
Dempsey earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1983 from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., where he was a four-year letter-winner in basketball and baseball. He also completed a master’s degree in education from Monmouth in 1991.



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