MEN'S BASKETBALL KICKS OFF DECEMBER WITH TRIP TO COLGATE

COMPLETE NOTES | LIVE STATS | LIVE AUDIO

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will travel to take on Colgate University on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at Cotterell Court. The game will be broadcast live on WKXZ, which is available online at www.GoColgateRaiders.com. The Wildcats and Raiders hook up for the 28th meeting in the history of the two programs, with UNH leading the all-time series, 16-11. UNH also won the last time these two squads met at Cotterell Court, a 60-52 win Nov. 26, 2005. Colgate has the most recent win, however, a 49-46 victory last season at Lundholm Gymnasium.   

Guards Eric Gilchrese and Alvin Abreu scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, but it was not enough as the Wildcats dropped their seventh consecutive game Dec. 30, 2007.   

The Wildcats fell to 3-8, while the Raiders improved to 7-5.   

After a pair of Mike Christensen free throws pulled the Wildcats to within three with 2:24 remaining in the game, two Daniel Waddy turnovers gave UNH one last chance with 21 seconds left. Abreu took the ball to the hoop hoping for a chance at a three-point play, but his shot with six seconds left didn’t fall. Gilchrese recovered the rebound and got the ball to junior guard Tyrece Gibbs, whose deep look at a 3-pointer went long as time expired.   

Gibbs tallied seven points and seven rebounds, while Christensen added five points and five rebounds.   

Abreu scored the first eight points of the game for the Wildcats, who led for most of the first frame. The ‘Cats went into the half with a 27-24 lead and looked in position to grab their first win of the month.   

Colgate, which shot 39 percent (9-23) from the floor in the first half, had other ideas when it shot 53 percent (10-19) in the second half. A 9-0 run gave the Raiders their largest lead of the game at 36-31 with 13:58 remaining in the contest. The Raiders eventually widened their advantage to 10 (48-38) with 6:57 left, but treys by Gilchrese, the America East Player of the Game, and Abreu cut the UNH deficit to 48-44 with 4:23 remaining.   

Alex Woodhouse led all scorers for Colgate, netting 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting.   

Freshman Dane DiLiegro chipped in with five points and five rebounds for UNH, which shot 26 percent (14-54) from the field for the game.   

Despite losing, UNH outshot Colgate from the charity stripe, 73 percent (11-15) to 47 percent (7-15) and had fewer turnovers (15) than the Raiders (23).

LAST TIME OUT

Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu scored a season-high 22 points, but the Wildcats had their come-back attempt come up short against Marist College, falling 63-61 Nov. 29 at the McCann Center.   

The Wildcats dropped to 1-3 on the season, while the Red Foxes improved to 2-3.

Trailing 60-56 with 40 seconds remaining in the game, UNH cut its deficit in half with a pair of Abreu free throws. The Wildcats fouled with 12 seconds left, sending Ryan Schneider to the line where he would hit both to put Marist back up by four, 62-58. Abreu then drilled a 3-pointer with four seconds on the clock to pull UNH within one. The Wildcats again sent Schneider to the line where he hit one of two to put Marist on top 63-61 with three ticks left on the clock. The ‘Cats had one final shot, but a last-second, half-court heave by freshman guard Russell Graham hit the backboard and ricocheted off the rim as time expired.

Abreu’s 22 points, which came off 7 of 14 shooting, were one shy of his career high. Abreu, the America East Player of the Game, netted 17 in the second half alone and was 6-for-7 at the line down the stretch.

A David Devezin layup with 12:21 to go in the second half gave Marist its largest lead of the game at 54-35. UNH would chip away, however, going on a 17-2 run to pull within 56-52 with 4:24 to play. The Wildcats used eight points from Abreu and six from sophomore center Dane DiLiegro during that span, but it was the Wildcat defense that helped power the run as it held Marist without a field goal for 8:51. DiLiegro finished with eight points and a season-high nine rebounds.

An Eric Gilchrese trey at 18:06 in the first half put UNH on the board first for the fourth time in as many games. An 11-2 Marist run, however, put the Red Foxes in front for good at 11-5 with 13:39 to go in the first. The rest of the frame was back and forth, with UNH pulling to within 12-10 midway through the half before Marist went on top 21-13 with 6:14 to play. MC led, 33-22, with 53 seconds left, but a pair of free throws by junior forward Radar Onguetou and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior guard Colbey Santos cut the Marist lead to 33-27 at the break. Sophomore guard Tyrone Conley scored seven of his nine points in the first half for UNH, while Lawrence Williams led Marist with 11 in the opening stanza.

A Conley layup 1:04 into the second half cut UNH’s deficit to just four. Marist, however, used a 12-2 run to take a 45-31 advantage with 15:39 to play and later scored six straight points to go up 19 with 12:21 left before withstanding the Wildcat surge to nail down the win.

Devezin led Marist with 19 points, while Williams tallied 15 points and eight rebounds and Schneider recorded eight points and 12 boards.

UNH won the turnover battle, forcing 21 Marist turnovers while only giving the ball away 10 times. The Wildcats were outshot, however, 52 percent (22-42) to 34 percent (21-61).

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.

MAKE THE MOST WITH WHAT YOU'RE GIVEN

Abby Kabba received his first dose of major playing time against Penn State on Nov. 23 as he played a career-high 26 minutes. Kabba made the most of the playing time as he ripped down a team- and career-high seven rebounds, while also chipping in offensively with two points. Kabba then added a career-high five points Nov. 29 at Marist. In the two games prior, Kabba had solid production for the time he played as he notched seven points and five rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

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 (154), sixth in 3-point attempts (396) and eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.389). Gibbs, who is 63 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.

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.

A CON-UNDRUM FOR OPPOSING DEFENSES

Tyrone Conley, who currently leads the team in scoring at 12.0 points per game, 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 netted double digits in two of the first three games this season, including 21 versus Harvard on Nov. 19, giving him at least 10 points in six of seven games.

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.

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS

Heading into today’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 497 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 675 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.

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.

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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