DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will take on the University of Vermont on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. at Patrick Gymnasium. The game will be broadcast live on 96.7 DOT-FM with the link available at www.UNHWildcats.com. The Wildcats and Catamounts meet for the 126th time in their long and storied history, with Vermont leading the all-time series, 78-47. The Catamounts have won 12 of the last 14 matchups, including eight straight against the Wildcats in the comfort of Patrick Gymnasium. Both of UNH’s win in last 14 contests have come at home, including last year’s 68-65 victory Feb. 28 in the most recent meeting between the two squads.
Senior Mike Christensen scored 24 points and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs added 19 to lead the Wildcats to victory on Senior Day in front of a season-high 1,853 fans at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The win, which snapped an eight-game losing streak against Vermont, closed out the Wildcats’ regular season record at 9-19, including 6-10 in America East. The Catamounts dropped to 14-14 overall and 8-7 in the conference. The win marked the first for the Wildcats against Vermont since a 78-57 victory Feb. 21, 2004 at Lundholm.
Christensen finished up his regular season Wildcat career on a high note, filling the stat line with four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. His 24 points came on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Gibbs also filled the stat line, tallying three rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal.
Trailing by seven (46-39) midway through the second half, the Wildcats went on a 14-1 run, using a nifty layup from Gibbs, who was hammered on the play, to take a 48-47 lead with 8:06 left in regulation. The lead was UNH’s first since its 23-22 advantage with 5:03 remaining in the opening frame. The ‘Cats pushed their lead to six before a layup and a 3-pointer by Mike Trimboli cut the deficit to 53-52 with 3:58 left.
As they have all year, the Wildcats refused to quit, getting a huge 3 from freshman guard Tyrone Conley that put them up 58-52 with 2:45 left. A dunk by freshman center James Valladares looked to seal the win when it gave UNH a 66-60 lead with 23 seconds left, but after Marqus Blakely made two from the line, and Valladares converted on 1-of-2, a Colin McIntosh trey cut UNH’s advantage to 67-65 with three seconds left. Christensen made 1-of-2 at the stripe, giving the Catamounts a chance to tie the game, but their long inbound attempt was picked off by freshman guard Alvin Abreu as time expired. Conley scored 10 points and added three steals, while Abreu tallied nine points, seven rebounds, five steals and two assists in 39 minutes.
UNH led 15-9 to begin the game before Vermont reeled off a 12-2 run to grab a 21-17 lead with 9:26 left in the first half. Back-to-back 3s by Christensen, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, and Conley put the Wildcats up by two with 6:55 left. The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half, with the Catamounts taking a 32-29 lead at the break.
Freshman center Dane DiLiegro pulled down seven rebounds, while Valladares gave the ‘Cats great minutes off the bench, tallying three points, three rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes.
Blakely and Trimboli led four Vermont scorers in double-digits with 16 points apiece. Blakely, who finished with eight rebounds, saw his streak of 10 straight double-doubles halted by the Wildcats. Timothy McCrory, the Catamounts’ America East Player of the Game, recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds.
UNH played what is maybe its best game of the year, shooting 40 percent from the floor (21-52), 50 percent from long range (10-20) and 80 percent from the line (16-20), while turning the ball over just nine times. The win is UNH’s first in its nine games that have been decided by five points or less this season.
This marks the final regular season game for both Christensen and senior forward Shawn Tobey. Tobey, who started just the second game of his career, played 11 minutes and finished with three points, all of which came on the first 3-pointer of his career that put the Wildcats up 9-7 just five minutes in.
LAST TIME OUT
Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs scored 17 points but it was not enough to propel the Wildcats to victory, as they fell, 60-47, to Binghamton University on Jan. 22 at Lundholm Gymnasium.
With the loss, the Wildcats dropped to 7-10 on the season and 2-3 in America East, while the Bearcats improved to 12-7 and sat atop the conference at 5-2.
Gibbs filled the rest of his stat line with three rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal in 37 minutes to garner UNH’s America East Player of the Game award.
Leading 33-28 coming out of the locker room, Binghamton scored the first five points of the second half to open its advantage up to 10. Gibbs answered with his second 3-pointer of the night 2:04 in, but after the teams traded baskets, a 7-2 run – sparked and capped by Malik Alvin buckets – gave the Bearcats a 47-35 lead with 11:38 remaining.
After a tough basket inside by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro, Gibbs stole the ball at midcourt, beat two Binghamton defenders and was fouled hard to the ground as he made an acrobatic layup that fueled a short 6-2 run by UNH and cut its deficit to eight with 9:21 to play. Binghamton answered with seven straight points, however, six of which were from Alvin, including a jumper at 7:23 that opened a 15-point lead (56-41) – its largest of the night.
The Wildcats came back with another 6-2 run that ended with a layup by sophomore guard Tyrone Conley, but Alvin put the finishing touches on the win as he closed the scoring with a layup with 1:30 left on the clock. Conley finished with 10 points and three rebounds, while DiLiegro added two points, six rebounds, an assist and a steal. Alvin, Binghamton’s America East Player of the Game, poured in 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second frame.
After a Gibbs pass setup a layup by junior guard Colbey Santos that tied the game at five in the early going, Binghamton used a 10-2 run to open its largest lead of the half at 15-7 with 13:41 left. Gibbs stopped the bleeding with his first trey of the game, which sparked an 8-2 run that brought the Wildcats within two.
After an Alvin 3-pointer gave Binghamton a 23-18 lead with 9:11 remaining in the opening stanza, a Conley trifecta and a pair of free throws by junior forward Radar Onguetou tied the game with 7:56 left. After the teams swapped a pair of free throws, two more at the charity stripe by sophomore guard Alvin Abreu gave UNH its final lead of the night at 27-25 with 5:01 to go.
The Bearcats ripped off eight straight points before another Abreu free throw closed the first-half scoring with Binghamton on top 33-28. Onguetou chipped in with five points and eight rebounds, while sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua notched eight points and five rebounds.
Gibbs finished the night with 1,131 points and moved past Peter Laskaris (1,115) and Austin Ganly (1,127) for 14th place on UNH’s all-time scoring list.
The Wildcats were outshot 46 percent (20-44) to 28 percent (14-51), but won the battle on the glass, 38-30, including 17-6 on the offensive end. UNH also shot its second highest percentage of the season from the line at 71 percent (15-21).
Tyrone Conley, a native of Burlington, Vt., returns to his hometown for the second time in a UNH uniform. Conley, Burlington High School's all-time leading scorer with 1,566 points, recorded eight points, two rebounds and three assists against the Catamounts in Burlington last season.
HOLDING DOWN THE FORT
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. UNH has had a knack for holding down the opposing team’s leading scorer this season. In 14 games when the opposition has had its leading scorer play in the game, the Wildcats have held him under his season average 10 times, including the last seven straight. The 14 players have come into their games against UNH with an average of 17.5 ppg and have netted an average of just 13.6 ppg against the Wildcats.
After being away from the team since the beginning of December, Eric Gilchrese rejoined the squad Jan. 17, but has yet to appear in a game. Gilchrese, who has missed 12 games, 9.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
UNH is ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a pair of categories. The Wildcats are 42nd in 3-point field goals per game (7.8) and 75th in scoring defense (63.4 papg). Individually, Tyrece Gibbs is 41st in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (40.7) and 80th in 3-point field goals per game (2.6).
TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS
Heading into tonight’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 510 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 687 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.
Tyrece Gibbs scored 17 points against Binghamton on Jan. 22 to move past Peter Laskaris (1,115) and Austin Ganly (1,127) and into 14th place on UNH’s all-tme scoring list with 1,131 points. Next up for Gibbs: Dave Pemberton, who sits in 13th with 1,136 points, followed by Matt Acres in 12th at 1,169.
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 1,131 points, 443 rebounds, 214 assists, 83 steals and 47 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.
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. The guard is currently third all-time on UNH’s 3-pointers made list (190), fourth in 3-point attempts (479), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (.397), sixth in blocks (47) and seventh in minutes played (3,235). 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 field goals made, field goals attempted, assists and games played.
In his “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, Lunadri has them advancing to play No. 1 Pitt, where head coach Bill Herrion’s brother, Tom, is the associate head coach.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR DOUBLE D
Dane DiLiegro notched his third career double-double and second of the season at Maine on Jan. 19 when he matched his career high with 12 points and ripped down 12 boards. One game earlier, the sophomore tore down 13 rebounds at Dartmouth on Jan. 17. DiLiegro recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds against Hofstra on Dec. 27 for his first double-double of the season. DiLiegro currently leads the conference in offensive rebounds per game (3.2) and is fourth in rebounding overall (7.5 rpg). The center is now averaging 5.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, better than his numbers of 4.7 points and 5.6 boards per contest at this point last season.
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.
LEADING AT THE BREAK
After beating Dartmouth, 68-59, Jan. 17, the Wildcats are now 5-0 when leading at halftime.
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.
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 93rd best in the country at 62.6 papg, is 5-1 when holding its opponents to 60 points or less and 1-7 when allowing 61 or more.
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.
Tyrece Gibbs played in his 100th game as a Wildcat on Jan. 11 versus Boston University. The senior needs to play in 12 more games to become the all-time leader in program history.
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.“
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.
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.
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.
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).
CATS' 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.
Tyrece Gibbs reached a pair of career highs and a handful of milestones against Hofstra on Dec. 27. Gibbs recorded a career-high four steals and and also matched his career high with three blocks, which moved him into ninth place on UNH’s all-time blocks list with 45. Gibbs posted the 200th assist of his career, becoming just the second Wildcat in history to amass 1,000 points, 200 assists and 45 blocks. The co-captain also moved into a third-place tie with Blagoj Janev on UNH’s all-time 3-point field goals made list (172) with his lone trey of the game. Gibbs, who finished the game with 1,020 points, moved past Marcus Bullock (1,015) and Eric Thielen (1,019) for 22nd on UNH’s all-time scoring list.
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.
PLAYING WITH PRIDE
Brian Benson knocked down his first career 3-pointer en route to recording a career-high seven points against Hofstra on Dec. 27.
NEW 3-POINT THREAT FOR WILDCATS?
Radar Onguetou might be spending a little too much time with Tyrece Gibbs and the rest of the Wildcats’ dangerous perimeter shooters. After sinking a total of three 3-pointers in his career, Onguetou knocked down a career-high two in three of four games from Dec. 3-13. The powerful forward was 2-for-4 from behind the arc Dec. 3 at Colgate, 2-for-3 Dec. 6 versus Brown and 2-for-3 Dec. 13 at Long Island. Onguetou was hitting them in the clutch as well, tying the game at 51 with 7:18 to go against Brown and then giving UNH a 62-58 lead with 1:36 left.
Russell Graham, making his third consecutive start at the point, put together a career night against powerhouse Rhode Island, setting personal bests in points (9), assists (5), steals (2), free throws made (3) and minutes (29).
Rhode Island is the highest RPI-ranked team the Wildcats have played this season at 37th. The Rams have also played some opponents that are on UNH’s schedule, including Penn State (W 77-72), Brown (W 76-74) and Hartford (W 94-72). The Wildcats, who are ranked 197th out of 343 teams in the rankings, a big improvement thus far over last year’s finish of 300 out of 341, lost to Penn State, 70-50, beat Brown, 64-61, and will meet Hartford twice in conference play.
Although they wound up losing to Marist, 63-61, Nov. 29, the Wildcats fought hard the final 12 minutes to claw their way back into the game. UNH trailed by 19 – 54-35 – with 12:21 to play, but ripped off a 17-2 run to pull within 56-52 with 4:24 on the clock. Eight points from Alvin Abreu, six from Dane DiLiegro and a 3-pointer from Russell Graham, combined with stifling defense that held Marist without a bucket for 8:51, powered the run. An Abreu trey with four seconds left put the Wildcats down 62-61, but that was close as they would get.
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-Althena 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.