MEN'S BASKETBALL HITS THE ROAD TO BATTLE BIG TEN FOE PENN STATE

COMPLETE NOTES | LIVE STATSLIVE AUDIO

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will travel to take on Penn State University on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network, as well as on the Penn State Sports Network, which is available online at www.GoPSUSports.com. The Wildcats and Nittany Lions meet for just the third time  in the history of the two programs, with Penn State leading the all-time series, 2-0. The squads first met Feb. 1, 1981 as PSU defended its home floor with an 85-72 victory. In the most recent meeting, Penn State downed the ‘Cats, 75-51 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec. 28, 2005.

Blagoj Janev scored 15 points for UNH, but it was not enough as Penn State shot 48 percent from the field to grab the victory.

Geary Claxton was led the game in scoring, chipping in 18 points for Penn State.   

Penn State shot 14-for-29 from the field in the first half, with six baskets scored behind the 3-point arc. New Hampshire was 9-for-23 from the field. The Lions led throughout the half and were up by as many as 13 points with 2:30 left in the frame. Janev was able to cut it to 32-21 with a layup at 1:38. Claxton scored the last basket of the half on a layup at the buzzer.

Claxton scored 15 points in the first half for the Nittany Lions, shooting 6-for-9 from the field. Jermaine Anderson led for New Hampshire with 13 points. Penn State held a 34-21 lead at the half.

New Hampshire came out stronger in the second half, shooting 41 percent from the field. Janev added 13 points, scoring three baskets from behind the perimeter. The Wildcats, however, could not find a rhythm and Penn State was able to maintain a double-digit lead the entire half.

With 6:43 remaining, Mike Christensen converted a free throw, making the score 56-42 and cutting Penn State’s lead to 14 points. But that was as close as the Wildcats would come. Jamelle Cornley converted two free throws that sparked a 16-3 Nittany Lions run. Shawn Tobey sank a shot at the charity stripe with 1:13 left in the game but by then Penn State held a 26-point lead. Chris Vetrano banked home a 3-pointer with two seconds left to cap the scoring.

New Hampshire committed a season-high 22 turnovers and allowed Penn State to capitalize and score 23 points.

LAST TIME OUT

Sophomore guard Tyrone Conley scored a season-high 21 points, however, it was not enough as the Wildcats fell to Harvard University, 80-69, Nov. 16 at Lundholm Gymnasium.   

The loss evened the Wildcats’ record at 1-1 on the young season, while the Crimson won their season-opener to earn their fourth straight win in the all-time series between the two teams.

Conley, the America East Player of Game, netted his 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting, including four 3-pointers that helped keep the ‘Cats within striking distance. Conley, who also added two rebounds, two steals and an assist, tied his career high with the four treys, while his 21 points were one off a personal best.

After what was mostly a back-and-forth battle between both squads in the first half of the opening period, the Wildcats, who trailed 48-33 at the break, opened up the second half on a 7-0 run and outscored the Crimson, 17-11, in the first seven minutes of the stanza. That run would get the Wildcats to within seven points as a Conley jumper cut the score to 60-53 with 12:32 remaining.

Despite the run, that would be as close as the Wildcats could get to capturing the lead in the half as a pair of Drew Housman free throws sparked a 19-13 Harvard run to close out the game.

The Wildcats, who shot 40 percent (25-62) from the floor in the game, held the early edge in the contest as they opened up the game leading 7-4. However, that lead would not hold long as the Crimson would go on an 8-0 run, sparked by a Jeremy Lin jumper, to push the lead to 18-9 in favor of the Crimson with 13:13 left in the first half.

New Hampshire would climb back into the contest midway through the period as a Rony Tchatchoua layup cut the Harvard lead down to just four points. The Crimson would catch fire once again, however, as they would roll on with a 12-2 run capped off by a pair of Max Kenyi free throws in the closing minutes of the half.

Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs and sophomore guard Alvin Abreu added 12 and 10 points, respectively. For Gibbs, the 12 points mark his sixth straight game scoring in double figures, which matches a career high. Tchatchoua, a sophomore forward, also added nine points and six rebounds. Senior guard Eric Gilchrese tallied seven points, two rebounds and four assists, while sophomore center Dane DiLiegro pulled down eight rebounds despite battling flu-like symptoms.

The Crimson, who shot 61 percent (27-44) from the field, had three players in double-figures with Kenyi leading the way with 17 and Lin and Keith Wright also adding 15 points apiece.

UNH only turned the ball over 10 times, compared to Harvard’s 13, and were much improved at the line from its previous contest as they shot 60 percent (9-13) from the stripe.

CONLEY HAS HIS OWN NUMBER

Tyrone Conley scored 21 points versus Harvard on Nov. 19, matching his jersey number. The 21 points tied the season high for a Wildcat this year, and was one point shy of Conley’s personal best.

A CON-UNDRUM FOR OPPOSING DEFENSES

Tyrone Conley, who currently leads the team in scoring at 16.0 points per game, has picked up where he left off last season. Conley scored in double figures in the final four games of the regular season in 2007-08 before netting nine points in the quarterfinal matchup with Hartford in the conference tournament. The sophomore guard has netted double digits in both games this season, including a UNH season-high 21 versus Harvard on Nov. 19, giving him at least 10 points in six of the last seven games he has played.

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.

SEEING DOUBLE

Including last season, Tyrece Gibbs has posted double-digit point figures in six straight games, a mark that matches his career high. Gibbs also had a six-game double-digit point streak that spanned from Jan. 18, 2007-Feb. 8, 2007.

TY-RRIFIC

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 fifth all-time on UNH’s 3-pointers made list (148), sixth in 3-point attempts (376) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (.394). Gibbs, who is 92 points shy of 1,000 for his career, is also close to moving into the top 10 in field goals made, field goals attempted, assists, blocks, games played and total minutes.

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.

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS

Heading into today’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 489 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 669 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.

THREE FOR ALL

Tyrece Gibbs, Alvin Abreu and Tyrone Conley all took home conference hardware at the annual America East banquet last season. Gibbs was named to the America East All-Conference Third Team, while Abreu and Conley were chosen for the All-Rookie Team. UNH was the only team with two of its players to garner spots on the five-member All-Rookie Team.

ABREU ONE OF TOP FRESHMEN LAST SEASON

At the end of last season, Alvin Abreu was named a CollegeHoops.net Honorable Mention Mid-Major All-Freshman. Abreu, who was a three-time America East Rookie of the Week during the season (Dec. 10, Jan. 7, Feb. 25), was also named to the America East All-Rookie Team before the start of the tournament.   

Abreu, who was one of just two freshman, and four players overall, to play in all 29 games for the Wildcats, led all America East rookies and was second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg). He also led the team in free throw percentage (.818), was second in 3-pointers made (62) and was fourth in rebounding (3.8 rpg) and assists (1.8 apg). The 62 treys are tied for the eighth most in a single season at UNH, while the free throw percentage of 81.8 is the 10th-best single-season mark in school history.

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.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

The Wildcats welcome in five newcomers this season, including a pair who have been around the program before this year. Junior Colbey Santos is eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer from James Madison University. The 6-foot-5-inch Santos will provide another athletic body and a deadly shooting ability to aid the Wildcats’ offensive attack. Freshman Ryan Herrion, the son of head coach Bill Herrion, played at Dover (N.H.) High School where he averaged 25.0 points and 5.0 assists per game last season en route to being named the Foster’s Daily Democrat Dream Team Player of the Year. Herrion, a 6-0, 165-pound walk-on, will add depth on the perimeter for the Wildcats.   

Freshmen Russell Graham, a 6-0, 185-pound guard, also joins the Wildcat back court. Graham is a tough, heady point guard and a solid defender who comes from a very successful high school program. Graham played at Norristown (Pa.) High School, where he averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his career. The Eagles finished 32-2 last season after an undefeated regular season in which Graham was named League Player of the Year, Times Herald Co-Player of the Year and First Team All-Area.    

The Wildcats also add Abby Kabba and Brian Benson to the mix in the front court. Kabba, a 6-6, 210-pound junior, is a quick, jack-of-all-trades type player; a good rebounder and solid defender. Kabba played his first two seasons at Northern Oklahoma, a junior college, where he averaged 6.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season. The 6-8, 190-pound Benson played at Greece-Althena High School, where he holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a season. Benson, a long and athletic freshman who is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, averaged 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season en route to being named Monroe County Division II Player of the Year and an All-Greater Rochester First Team member.


2008-09 OUTLOOK

University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion enters his fourth season at the helm with what is the most quality depth the program has possessed during his tenure. With eight letterwinners – including four starters – returning, combined with five impact newcomers, the Wildcats should be much improved and in contention for their first America East title.

Despite losing 1,000-point scorer Mike Christensen and hard-working walk-on Shawn Tobey, the Wildcats bring back nearly their entire roster, led by senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) and junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon). Gibbs was a workhorse for the Wildcats last season, playing in all 29 games while averaging a team-best 35.8 minutes per contest. The America East All-Conference Third Team honoree did it all in 2007-08, leading the squad in scoring (14.4 ppg), 3-point field goal percentage (.407), assists (3.1 apg) and blocks (0.62 bpg). Onguetou returns at full strength this season after being limited to just four games last year due to a knee injury. A naturally gifted rebounder who averaged nearly five boards per game in the four contests he appeared in, Onguetou will bring much-needed leadership and toughness back into the Wildcat frontcourt.

Gibbs will be joined in the backcourt by fellow senior Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.). Last season – his first with the Wildcats – the point guard poured in 10.2 points per game while leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.48) and steals (1.54 spg). Gilchrese showed his toughness as well, playing 28-of-29 games despite dealing with an injury down the stretch. Also returning are sophomore guards and 2008 America East All-Rookie Team members Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) and Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.). Abreu, who was also selected as a CollegeHoops.net Honorable Mention Mid-Major All-Freshman, led all America East rookies and was second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg). Abreu played in all 29 contests while splitting time between the one- and two-guard spots for the Wildcats. Conley showed off his athleticism and leaping ability while averaging 8.8 points per game last season. Conley appeared in 27 games despite battling illness for nearly a month. The Wildcats also have 6-foot-5-inch Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer from James Madison University. Santos will provide another athletic body and a deadly shooting ability to aid the Wildcats’ offensive attack. The program also welcomes two other newcomers into the backcourt in freshmen Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) and Ryan Herrion (Dover, N.H.). The 6-0, 185-pound Graham is a tough, heady point guard and a solid defender who comes from a very successful high school program. Graham played at Norristown (Pa.) High School, where he averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his career. The Eagles finished 32-2 last season after an undefeated regular season in which Graham was named League Player of the Year, Times Herald Co-Player of the Year and First Team All-Area. Herrion, the son of head coach Bill Herrion, played at Dover (N.H.) High School where he averaged 25.0 points and 5.0 assists per game last season en route to being named the Foster’s Daily Democrat Dream Team Player of the Year. Herrion, a 6-0, 165-pound walk-on, will add depth on the perimeter for the Wildcats.

The UNH frontcourt will once again be anchored in the middle by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.). DiLiegro played in all 29 contests last season, while leading all America East rookies and the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg). The big man recorded six double-digit rebound games, including his first career double-double. Sophomores Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) and James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) also return to provide big bodies and quality depth in the frontcourt. Tchatchoua played in 23 games while averaging 4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game off the bench. Valladares, who added muscle and improved his game during the offseason, saw action in 26 games, providing a valuable 9.6 minutes per game off the bench while backing up DiLiegro at center. The Wildcats also add newcomers Abby Kabba (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) to the mix. Kabba, a 6-6, 210-pound junior, is a quick, jack-of-all-trades type player; a good rebounder and solid defender. Kabba played his first two seasons at Northern Oklahoma, a junior college, where he averaged 6.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season. The 6-9, 205-pound Benson played at Greece-Althena High School, where he holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a season. Benson, a long and athletic freshman who is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, averaged 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season en route to being named Monroe County Division II Player of the Year and an All-Greater Rochester First Team member.

With greater depth, a solid nucleus and a group of talented athletes, the 2008-09 Wildcats should be in the mix for the America East title.

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