MEN'S BASKETBALL TAKES ON INTRASTATE RIVAL DARTMOUTH ON JAN. 17

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DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will battle intrastate rival Dartmouth College on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at Leede Arena. The game will be broadcast live on WTSL, with the link available at www.UNHWildcats.com. The Wildcats and Big Green meet for the 57th time in their intrastate rivarly, with Dartmouth leading the all-time series, 31-25. UNH has recently had the upper hand in the series, however, winning two of the last three meetings and six of the past nine. The ‘Cats have also been victorious in three of the last four matchups at Leede Arena. The Wildcats did lose the most recent contest, however, dropping a 65-60 overtime decision at Lundholm on Jan. 15, 2008.

Junior guard Tyrece Gibbs scored 21 points and tallied seven rebounds to pace UNH.

The Wildcats’ record dropped to 4-12 overall, while the Big Green improved to 7-8.

Trailing 59-57 with 1:43 remaining in overtime, Dartmouth received a jumper from Marlon Sanders that tied the game, took away UNH’s lead for good, and sparked an 8-1 run. After Jonathan Ball converted a layup to put Dartmouth up 61-59 with 55 seconds left, Gibbs made 1-of-2 from the line to bring UNH within one. Sandwiched around freshman guard Alvin Abreu’s missed layup with 10 seconds left, the Big Green made their final four free throws to ice the game.

Abreu finished with 13 points to extend his double-digit scoring streak to six games, and 14-of-16 overall.

The Wildcats led 49-39 with 4:16 left in regulation before Dartmouth crafted a 15-5 run to tie the game. Alex Barnett’s jumper with two seconds remaining sent the game to overtime.

With 12:18 left in the first half, Dartmouth held what would be its largest lead of the game at 16-6 before an 18-4 run by UNH, gave the ‘Cats a 24-20 lead with 4:14 remaining in the opening frame. The Wildcats went into the break on top 28-22. Gibbs netted 15 of his points in the first half.

UNH widened its advantage to 10 just three minutes into the second half and kept it there until Dartmouth’s run to end the half. The Wildcats, who are ranked 32nd in the nation in free throw percentage, missed four from the line down the stretch to aid the Big Green rally. The ‘Cats finished an uncharacteristic 14-of-25 (56 percent) from the stripe.

Senior forward Mike Christensen and freshman center Dane DiLiegro each grabbed 11 rebounds, and added nine and eight points, respectively.

Barnett led three Dartmouth players in double digits with 13 points and 12 boards.

Dartmouth outshot the Wildcats 38 percent (24-63) to 31 percent (19-61) for the game.

LAST TIME OUT

Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs matched his career high with 22 points to lead the Wildcats to a 65-47 victory over UMBC – the defending America East champions – on Jan. 14 at Lundholm Gymnasium.

The Wildcats won for their third time in four games to improve to 6-8 on the season, including 2-1 in the America East. The Retrievers lost for the third time in four games to fall to 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the conference. UNH improved to 7-5 all-time against UMBC and won for the first time in the last three meetings between the two squads.

The ‘Cats, 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.

The 22 points – a season high – marked the fifth time Gibbs has matched his career high since setting it Jan. 21, 2007 versus Stony Brook. Gibbs, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, also added six rebounds and two assists.

Leading 27-24 at the break, UNH started the second half on an 11-2 run – capped by a Gibbs 3-pointer – that opened up a 38-26 lead with 17:32 remaining. The Wildcats tacked on one point to their lead over the next 5:15 and led 47-34 when sophomore guard Tyrone Conley hit a 3-pointer to spark a 5-0 run that pushed UNH’s lead to 18. Conley finished with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting and added five rebounds.

UMBC came back with a 5-0 run of its own before Conley closed out a 6-0 UNH run with a jumper that gave the Wildcats a 58-39 advantage with 4:07 to play. After Darryl Proctor converted an old fashioned three-point play, Gibbs and Proctor traded baskets to bring the score to 60-44 with 2:31 left. Another Conley jumper and a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Alvin Abreu gave UNH a 20-point lead – its largest of the game. Proctor finished another layup before each team added a free throw to close the scoring. Abreu tallied seven points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in the contest.

Once again it was the defense that came up big down the stretch for the Wildcats. After a 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.

Freshman forward Brian Benson provided a surge of energy off the bench during UNH’s 11-2 to start the second half. 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 Proctor that kept the team feeding off the noisy Lundholm crowd’s liveliness. Tchatchoua chipped in with four points, four boards and a pair of blocks.

The start of the first half was a back-and-forth affair between both squads, with UNH taking a 10-9 lead at 15:19 off Gibbs’ second trey of the game. Gibbs scored eight of the Wildcats’ first 10 points.

The teams traded baskets for much of the next five minutes until four straight points gave UMBC its largest lead of the game (19-14) midway through the half. The Wildcats responded, however, receiving seven straight points from Conley, including a 3-pointer that put the ‘Cats in the lead for good at 6:02, to spark an 11-0 run that gave UNH a 25-19 lead with 4:20 to play.

Jay Greene knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to end the run and cut UNH’s lead down to 25-22 with 4:00 remaining. The two teams traded jumpers during the next four minutes and headed into the locker room with UNH on top, 27-24. The Wildcats are now 4-0 when leading at halftime.

Gibbs finished the game with 1,077 career points, leaving him just 11 points shy of passing Mike Christensen for 17th on UNH’s all-time scoring list. After playing 38 minutes, Gibbs also moved up the Wildcats’ all-time minutes played list and is now seventh with 3,132 minutes.

UNH shot its third highest percentage of the season from the floor to outshoot UMBC, 47 percent (25-53) to 41 percent (19-46). The Wildcats also won the battle on the boards, 39-23. Sophomore center Dane DiLiegro, the conference’s fourth leading rebounder, recorded four points and six rebounds in the game.

Proctor led the Retrievers with 16 points and nine boards. Greene, UMBC’s America East Player of the Game, added 11 points and seven assists.

HOME COOKIN'

After their 65-47 win against UMBC at Lundholm Gymnasium on Jan. 14, the Wildcats are now 5-2 at home this season. It is the best home start for UNH since it began the 1997-98 season 6-1 at Lundholm.

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.

CONFERENCE CONQUEST

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.

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 62.9 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.

SCORE, DEFEND, REBOUND: BASICS EQUAL W's

After beating UMBC, 65-47, Jan. 14, the Wildcats are now 4-0 when leading at halftime, 3-0 when holding their opponent to 50 points or less and 4-1 when outrebounding their opponent.

FLIPPING THE CALENDAR

Since the calendar has flipped to 2009 the Wildcats are 3-1, recording as many victories in four games in the new year as they did in 10 contests in 2008. In other calendar related news, the Wildcats are also 3-1 on Wednesdays.

NATIONALLY RANKED

UNH is ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in three categories. The Wildcats are 43rd in 3-point field goals per game (7.8), 71st in scoring defense (62.9 papg) and 95th in turnovers per game (13.2). Individually, Tyrece Gibbs is 48th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (40.2) and 94th in 3-point field goals per game (2.5).

PAIR POURING IN POINTS FOR 'CATS

The Wildcats are one of just three teams in the conference to have two players in the top 13 in scoring. Tyrece Gibbs is 10th at 13.4 points per game, while Alvin Abreu is 13th at 12.4 ppg.

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS

Heading into today’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 507 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 685 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.

CENTURY MARK

Tyrece Gibbs played in his 100th game as a Wildcat on Jan. 11 versus Boston University. The senior needs to play in 14 more games to become the all-time leader in program history.

 

TOTAL PACKAGE

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 1,077 points, 430 rebounds, 206 assists, 81 steals and 45 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.

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 third all-time on UNH’s 3-pointers made list (181), third in 3-point attempts (458), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (.395), seventh in minutes played (3,132)  and ninth in blocks (45). 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.

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. DiLiegro is currently second in the conference in offensive rebounds per game (3.0) and is sixth in rebounding overall (6.9 rpg).

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

Tyrece Gibbs scored a season-high 21 points against Hartford on Jan. 7 to move past Eric Montanari (1,038) and into 18th place on UNH’s all-tme scoring list with 1,055 points. Next up for Gibbs: former teammate and fellow captain Mike Christensen, who sits in 17th with 1,087 points.

 

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.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR DOUBLE D

Dane DiLiegro notched his second career double-double versus Hofstra on Dec. 27 when he poured in 10 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. The center is now averaging 5.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, better than his numbers of 4.2 points and 5.1 boards per contest at this point last season.

MULTIPLE MILESTONES

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.

 

GRAND THREE-PEAT

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.

GOLDEN GRAHAM

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).

POWERFUL RAMS

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.

'CATS "BEAR" DOWN AGAINST BROWN

UNH’s 64-61 win versus Brown on Dec. 6 was the Wildcats’ first win in five tries against the Bears. UNH’s most recent win before that came in a 77-71 victory at Lundholm on Nov. 14, 1998.

 

JUST BE YOURSELF

In their win against Colgate on Dec. 3, the Wildcats finally looked like the same team from last year that was seventh in the country in 3-pointers per game (9.5) and 81st in 3-point field goal percentage (37.2). The ‘Cats shot 50 percent (12-24) from behind the arc against Colgate and were shooting it so well in the first half that seven of their eight field goals in that frame were 3s.

 

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE

Alvin Abreu broke out for the first time this season Nov. 29 at Marist, scoring a UNH season-high 22 points  – one shy of his career high – on 7 of 14 shooting. Abreu, who netted 17 of his points in the second half to lead the UNH comeback, hit a career-high seven free throws and was 6 of 7 from the stripe down the stretch.

COMEBACK KIDS

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.

HANGIN' TOUGH

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.

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