January 2, 2011

Men's Hoop Rings in New Year with Conference Opener at Albany (Jan. 2)

COMPLETE GAME NOTES

DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will kick off 2011 when it opens America East play Sunday, Jan. 2 (4 p.m.) against the University at Albany at SEFCU Arena. Links to live audio and live video, as well as live stats, will be available at www.UNHWildcats.com.

The Wildcats and Great Danes meet for the 22nd time in their relatively young conference rivalry, with Albany holding a slight edge in the all-time series, 11-10. The series has shifted control over the years, with UNH currently having won five of the last six meetings, including four straight, after Albany had won four in a row. Prior to that run, UNH had won four of six after the Great Danes had been victorious in four of the first five. The Wildcats have won four of the last five at home against Albany, and have split with the Great Danes over the last six at SEFCU Arena. The 'Cats have also recorded three regular-season sweeps in the past five years. In the most recent meeting Feb. 9, 2010, the Wildcats defeated Albany, 62-53, at SEFCU Arena.

Junior Alvin Abreu scored a game-high 22 points, including 15 in the second half, to lead the 'Cats.

With the win, the Wildcats improved to 9-13 on the season, including 4-7 in America East play, while the Great Danes dropped their eighth straight game and fell to 6-21, 1-11 AE.

Abreu garnered America East Player of the Game honors for UNH by shooting 7-for-12 from the floor, including 3-for-6 from behind the arc. Abreu made five of his six free throws and added three rebounds, an assist and a steal. Classmate Tyrone Conley netted 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting, including 2 of 3 from deep. Conley made both of his shots at the line, grabbed a pair of rebounds and made a steal.

Fran Urli and Mike Black led Albany with 14 points apiece.

The Wildcats improved to 9-2 when leading at halftime after heading into the break with a 27-22 advantage. Will Harris opened the second-half scoring with a jumper that sliced the Albany deficit to three, but UNH clamped down and ripped off an 18-6 run over the next six-plus minutes. Consecutive layups from junior Dane DiLiegro and Abreu pushed the lead to seven before a Black jumper made it 31-26. Abreu then answered back with a jumper, but Black sank a pair of free throws to keep his team within five.

Layups from sophomore Brian Benson and Conley made it 37-28 before a Conley steal, followed by a fast-break dunk opened the lead to 11. Abreu sank a 3-pointer from the right wing before Urli stopped the bleeding with a jump hook that cut it to 12. Abreu came back down on the next possession, however, and drained another 3 from the right wing that capped the run and gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the night at 45-30 with 12:29 to play.

UNH still lead by 15, 54-39 with 4:53 remaining, when a 7-0 run brought Albany back into the game and made it 54-46 with 1:40 left. From there, however, the Wildcats sank 8 of 10 at the line, including two by Abreu with 22 seconds remaining that closed the scoring and sealed the 62-53 win.

DiLiegro posted six points and 10 boards as he became the 14th member of UNH's 500 points-500 rebounds club. The center finished the night with 505 points and 576 rebounds, which moved him into 10th place on the Wildcats' all-time rebounding list. Benson added three points, three rebounds and a block off the bench.

After Albany jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game, the Wildcats roared back with a 12-0 run, capped by back-to-back Conley 3-pointers. Senior Colbey Santos knocked down a 3 at 13:43 that gave UNH a 6-5 lead they would not relinquish. The Great Danes later cut it to 16-12 at 8:51 before a 3 and a jumper from Abreu made it 21-12 with 6:26 to play in the opening half.

An 8-2 spurt from the Great Danes would get them to within 23-20 before a layup by freshman Chandler Rhoads stopped the stretch. A pair of free throws by Harris sliced it to three again, but a jumper in the paint from senior Radar Onguetou closed the scoring and sent the Wildcats to the locker room with a 27-22 lead.

Santos chipped in with six points on 2 of 3 shooting from deep, while Rhoads also played well off the bench with seven points, five assists and two rebounds.

Abreu ended the night with 1,025 points and moved into 22nd place on UNH's all-time scoring list after passing Tom Horne (1,011), Marcus Bullock (1,015), Eric Thielen (1,019) and Dirk Koopman (1,023).

UNH outshot Albany, 47.6 percent (20-42) to 31.7 percent (13-41), including 50 percent (7-14) to 7.7 percent (1-13) from beyond the arc. The 'Cats also shot 75 percent (15-20) from the line and turned the ball over 12 times, while forcing the Great Danes into 13 and holding a 15-8 scoring edge in points off turnovers. Albany was 26-for-33 from the stripe and held a 30-28 edge on the glass.

Harris added 12 points for Albany.

LAST TIME OUT

Sophomore point guard Chandler Rhoads led four scorers in double-digits with a season-high 15 points as the Wildcats dropped a 78-65 decision to VCU in the championship game of the Richmond Marriott Holidays on the Hardwood Classic on Dec. 30 at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

The Wildcats fell to 6-6 on the season, which marked the first time the team had recorded six victories before New Year's Day since the 1994-95 season. The Rams improved to 9-4.

Rhoads, the America East Player of the Game, was 3-for-6 from the field, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc, and also went 7 of 9 at the line to go along with five rebounds and two assists. Sophomore Ferg Myrick added 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting to go along with three rebounds. Freshman DeAndray Buckley also netted 11 points on 3 of 4 shooting and tallied three rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist in 19 minutes. Senior Tyrone Conley, who was named to the All-Tournament Team after the game, chipped in with 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and a block and is now just nine points shy of becoming the 28th member of the program to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

VCU was led by Bradford Burgess, who poured in 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds. Brandon Rozzell added 23 points behind a 6-for-12 shooting performance from deep.

The Rams jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind five points from Burgess. The teams then battled back and forth with a pair of layups by senior Dane DiLiegro cutting the deficit to four (22-18) with 7:42 remaining in the opening half. The gap was five (25-20) with 5:35 to play when a 14-4 run by VCU made it 39-24 with 1:36 on the clock. With the margin still at 15, Burgess added a layup with 3.7 seconds to go to give VCU a 43-26 lead at the break.

After the teams traded baskets to start the second half, VCU went on a 10-3 run to go up 55-31 with 13:16 remaining. The teams then traded 3-pointers before a 7-0 UNH run, which was capped by a trey from junior Brian Benson, sliced the deficit to 17 at 58-41 with 10:32 to play.

VCU responded with a 13-4 run that pushed its lead to 71-45 – the largest of the game – with just under six minutes to play. Five straight points from Rhoads cut it to 21 with 4:48 remaining before Rozzell answered with a 3. UNH then reeled off nine straight points, including five from Buckley, before freshman Scott Morris closed the run with a 3 from the right wing to make it 74-59 with 2:18 left. With the deficit still at 15 (78-63) and just 23 seconds on the clock, Morris jumped into the passing lane to steal the ball and ran the length of the court before capping the scoring with a two-handed dunk.

DiLiegro recorded six points and eight rebounds, while Benson posted seven points and a career-high 11 boards.

VCU narrowly outshot UNH, 42 percent (26-62) to 40 percent (20-50), including 38 percent (11-29) to 25 percent (5-20) from behind the arc. The Wildcats held a 42-40 advantage on the glass.

CONFERENCE COACHING CONQUESTS
Head coach Bill Herrion is currently tops among active coaches and third overall in America East regular season conference victories. Herrion's 137 conference wins are far and away better than the league's other eight coaches, with Albany's Will Brown the next closest with 64. Overall, Herrion sits behind only former Boston University head coach Dennis Wolff (152) and long-time Vermont head man Tom Brennan (147).

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR
The Wildcats went 5-5 before New Year's Day last season, their best record since 1994-95 when they were 6-2 before Jan. 1. The 'Cats have matched that at 6-6 this season and their 68-66 win against Cornell on Dec. 29, gave the program six wins before New Year's Day for the first time since '94-'95.

HOMECOMING
Virginia native Chandler Rhoads had quite the homecoming at the Richmond Marriott Holidays on the Hardwood Classic at VCU's Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Rhoads netted 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 2 of 2 from behind the arc, matched his career high with eight rebounds and handed out five assists in the first game against Cornell on Dec. 29. Then against VCU in the championship game the next night, Rhoads poured in a season-best 15 points to go along with five rebounds and a pair of assists.

BENSON IS BOARDING
Junior Brian Benson is having the best season of his career on the glass. Benson is second on the team and eighth in the conference at 6.4 rebounds per game. Over the last six contests, which included a career-best 11-rebound performance at VCU on Dec. 30, Benson is averaging 7.5 boards per game.

CLOSE AND LATE
After going 15-32 from 2005-06 through last season, the Wildcats are a perfect 5-0 this year in games decided by five points or less.

LEADING AT THE HALF
The Wildcats are 5-1 this season when leading at the half. The one loss was a seven-point defeat at seventh-ranked UConn on Nov. 30 after they held a one-point edge at the break.

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS
Heading into Wednesday's contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 565 consecutive games, a streak that spans 20 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 786 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.

'CATS AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
The Wildcats are currently leading the America East conference in points allowed per game (61.7). They are also third in both field goal percentage defense (.405) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.317). Individually, a handful of 'Cats are among the top 10 in a number of categories. Tyrone Conley is sixth in steals per game (1.5) and 10th in both 3-point field goals made per game (1.8) and minutes per game (32.3). Dane DiLiegro is second in rebounding (7.9), fifth in free throw percentage (.810) and eighth in field goal percentage (.482). Chandler Rhoads is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2) and eighth in assists per game (2.8). Brian Benson is eighth in both rebounding (6.4) and blocked shots per game (0.9).

UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
The Wildcats are 0-3 this season in games played in the state of Connecticut, while they are 6-3 in the rest of their contests.

LOVEABLE LUNDHOLM
The Wildcats are 15-5 (.750) in their last 20 home contests dating back to 2008-09. The 'Cats finished last season 9-4 at home, their best mark since the 1994-95 campaign when they were 8-2 in Durham.

OFFENSE + DEFENSE  = WINS
It has been no secret that the Wildcats have hung their hat on defense this season, leading the conference in scoring defense and ranking second in both field goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense. The 'Cats mixed in some efficient offense to record a 68-66 win against Cornell on Dec. 29, shooting a season-high 51 percent (24-47) from the field.

HE DID WHAT?!
Sophomore Ferg Myrick, who has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games this year and 13 of 15 dating back to last season, scored a team-high 14 points against Cornell on Dec. 29 and also dished out a career-high five assists. Myrick's previous best was one assist, which he reached seven times.

NATIONALLY-RANKED (AS OF DEC. 19)
UNH is ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a handful of categories. The Wildcats are 23rd in scoring defense (58.3 ppg), 57th in turnover margin (+2.9), 70th in field goal percentage defense (.399) and 76th in turnovers per game (12.9). Individually, Dane DiLiegro is 61st in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and 76th in free throw percentage (85.7).

BLOCK PARTY
In addition to matching his career high with nine rebounds at Central Connecticut State on Dec. 22, junior Brian Benson recorded a career-best five blocked shots, which are the most for a Wildcat since Rob Marquardt swatted five attempts Jan. 10, 2001 in an 87-69 victory against Vermont at Lundholm Gymnasium.

BUCKLEY-NG DOWN
Just after playing his best game of the season with a career-best 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field and a perfect 3 of 3 shooting at the line at Rhode Island on Dec. 18, freshman DeAndray Buckley surpassed that performance with 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in a career-best 28 minutes at Central Connecticut State on Dec. 22.

SATURDAY DAY FEVER
Prior to their 64-52 loss at Rhode Island on Dec. 18, the Wildcats were 4-0 on Saturdays and 3-0 in day games.

DOESN'T ADD UP
Despite holding Rhode Island to the second lowest field goal percentage they have allowed all season at 35.6 percent (21-59), the Wildcats turned the ball over a season-high 17 times, while forcing their fewest turnovers of the season (7).

DOUBLE THE FUN
Senior Dane DiLiegro recorded his third double-double of the season when he posted 10 points and 10 rebounds against Army on Dec. 9. DiLiegro, who also matched his career best with three assists in just 23 minutes due to foul trouble, is inching closer to averaging a double-double for the season with 10.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

RHOAD WORK
Sophomore point guard Chandler Rhoads had one of his better games of the season against Army on Dec. 9. Rhoads, who attended Air Force Prep, netted 10 points and dished out a career-best six assists in a career-high 32 minutes.

300
With the Wildcats' 65-60 win at Colgate on Dec. 4, head coach Bill Herrion recorded his 300th career win. The 20-year bench boss became the 284th college basketball head coach, including the 72nd active head coach, to reach the 300-win plateau. Herrion also reached another milestone earlier in his career against Colgate, winning his 50th career game at UNH in a 63-55 win at Lundholm Gymnasium on Dec. 30, 2009.

PERFECT LINE
In the Wildcats' 65-60 win at Colgate on Dec. 4, senior Dane DiLiegro matched Matt Alosa, Chris Brown and Jermaine Anderson when he tied the school record for most free throws made in a game without a miss after he was a perfect 12-for-12 at the line. A career 54 percent (109-202) free throw shooter entering the season, DiLiegro is hitting at a 86 percent (30-35) clip this year and ranks second in the conference in the category.

NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER
The Wildcats closed out the month of November with a 4-2 record, their first ever four-win November and just their ninth winning November in the last 39 years.

NEARLY SOMETHING SPECIAL
The Wildcats came very close to knocking off the No. 7-ranked team in the country when they took UConn to the wire before falling 62-55 at Gampel Pavilion on Nov. 30. The Wildcats, who never trailed in the first half, led at the 14:08 mark in the second half and trailed by just one with 8:24 to play in the contest. The 62-point output was the smallest for the Huskies to that point in the season.

THIS CLOSE
How epic would the win against UConn have been for the Wildcats? It would have been the program's first win ever against a ranked opponent, but what's more is that entering the contest, UConn was 112-4 against non-conference New England opponents during the Jim Calhoun era, in addition to owning a 134-18 record, including 65-4 against non-conference foes, all-time at Gampel Pavilion.

WALKING THE LINE
Against UConn on Nov. 30, Kemba Walker — the nation's leading scorer coming into the game (30.0 ppg) — netted 30 points, but picked up 14 of them at the charity stripe. While Walker was 7 of 16 from the floor, the rest of his team combined for 32 points on 12 of 34 shooting.

LINING UP
Despite converting three more field goals, including five more 3-pointers, holding a 39-38 edge in the rebounding department, including 18-12 on the offensive glass, and turning the ball over just 13 times, while forcing 12 turnovers, the Wildcats suffered a 62-55 loss at No. 7 UConn on Nov. 30. How? UConn sank 18 more free throws after being sent to the line 20 more times than UNH.

SURPRISE!
Prior to tipping off with UConn on Nov. 30, the Wildcats were shooting 24.8 percent (26-105) from behind then arc. The 'Cats then proceeded to shoot 50 percent (8-16) from deep against the Huskies.

FITTING IN
Sophomore Ferg Myrick looked like he belonged, especially in the second half, when the Wildcats battled seventh-ranked UConn on Nov. 30. Myrick poured in a season-high 19 points, including 16 in the second half on 6 of 9 shooting, against the Big East power. Myrick also set career highs in 3-pointers made (3) and steals (4), while matching his career best with eight rebounds.

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO ON
Senior James Valladares scored a career-high 12 points — all in the first half — in the Wildcats' 62-55 loss at No. 7 UConn on Nov. 30. Valladares made five of his first six shots and netted UNH's final 10 points of the half.

MOVIN' ON UP
Senior Dane DiLiegro grabbed 10 boards at UConn on Nov. 30 to move past Matt Acres, who recorded 680 rebounds from 1994-98, and into sixth place on UNH's all-time list.

ANOTHER DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR DOUBLE D
In the Wildcats' 70-66 win against Brown on Nov. 27, senior Dane DiLiegro posted his second double-double of the season (10th of his career), as well as his second game-winning basket of 2010-11. DiLiegro reached game and season highs in both points and rebounds with 23 points and 12 boards. DiLiegro, who gave UNH a 55-53 victory at Dartmouth on Nov. 16 with a layup with 1.5 seconds remaining, made the go-ahead bucket with 2.8 seconds on the clock.

STEALING THE SHOW
In the 70-66 win against Brown on Nov. 27, senior Tyrone Conley, who poured in a season-high 19 points, tallied a career-high five steals, including one off a Brown inbounds pass at midcourt with one second remaining that sealed the victory.

HOLDIN' IT DOWN
The Wildcats held their first four opponents of the season under 55 points for the first time since the 1947-48 season when they held their first six opponents under 55.

LATE BLOOMERS
For the second time on the road this year, the Wildcats attempted to erase a 17-point deficit and used a big run to get back into the game at Sacred Heart on Nov. 23. Trailing 36-19 at the half, the 'Cats stormed out of the locker room on a 15-2 run that spanned the first 8:52 of the half. During that stretch, UNH forced 10 turnovers and caused Sacred Heart to shoot 1-for-5 (.200) from the floor. Overall, the Wildcats allowed just two second-half field goals as the Pioneers shot 2-for-14 (.143) and went 12:24 between those two makes.

FIRST THREE
The Wildcats won their first three games of the season for the first time since the 1971-72 campaign. The 'Cats also held all three oponents under 55 points, the first time they started 3-0 and allowed fewer than 55 points in each game since the 1931-32 season.

HERRION CLIMBING WINS LIST
By defeating Holy Cross, 55-52, Nov. 20, head coach Bill Herrion recorded his 61st victory at UNH and moved into fourth on the school's all-time wins list, passing Bill Olsen, who won 60 games in six seasons from 1960-66. Herrion now trails only Gerry Friel (188), William Cowell (119), and Henry Swasey (108) in the record books.

FEAT CONFIRMED
The Wildcats held their opponents to 62.4 ppg last year, the lowest since the 1950-51 season when they limited foes to 60.3 ppg. Records prior to 1960-61 were incomplete at the end of last season.

TOUGH BREAK
The Wildcats and senior guard Alvin Abreu were struck by some unfortunate luck in theit game at Dartmouth on Nov. 16. Abreu tore the ACL in his right knee during the second half and will miss the rest of the season.

HERRION VS. WILDCATS' 2010-11 OPPONENTS
Coming into the season, Bill Herrion owns a 112-78 (.589) record against the Wildcats' possible 2010-11 opponents.

HOOPS FOR HOPE
The University of New Hampshire's Wildcat Sports Properties and Holy Rosary Credit Union (HRCU) have teamed up to create a community-inspired basketball promotion to benefit the St. Charles Children's Home with a donation of $1 for every point scored by the UNH men's basketball team throughout the season.

"We're proud to partner with UNH's Wildcat Sports to provide support for St. Charles Children's Home in Rochester. Hoops for Hope is our way of showing our commitment to sports, education and the children of the communities we serve," said Brian Hughes, President and CEO of HRCU.

After each game, the points scored will be tallied and recorded on a "Hoops for Hope" banner housed in Lundholm Gymnasium. So far this season, $719 has been donated.

DEMPSEY ON COLLEGE CHALKTALK
Associate Head Coach Ken Dempsey will be blogging at various points of the season on College Chalktalk. To follow along with Dempsey's entries, visit www.CollegeChalkTalk.com/coachesDiary/new_hampshire.

UNH HOOPS ON WILDCATS.TV
UNH and Pack Network have once again partnered to provide online video streaming of UNH's seven ticketed sports for the upcoming 2009-10 season with UNHwildcats.Tv. Wildcat fans are encouraged to buy the "Wildcat All-Access Pass" which is an annual subscription for $89.95 that provides all the live coverage of UNH home athletic events. Fans can also purchase home events on a per game basis of $7.95.

WILDCAT BASKETBALL ON THE AIR
In the summer of 1999, the University of New Hampshire Athletic Department formed the "UNH Sports Network" — the largest network ever to broadcast UNH sporting events. Wildcats Sports Properties has added WGIN-AM 930 (Rochester) and WQSO-FM 96.7 (Portsmouth) as flagship stations on the Wildcat Sports Network, joining WGIR-AM 610 (Manchester), which was added in 2008. All three stations are part of the Clear Channel family and this change will go into effect at the beginning of the 2009-10 season. These three aforementioned stations – along with WUVR-AM 1490 (Lebanon), WNTK-FM 99.7 (New London) and WCNL-AM 1010 (Newport) – will carry the following: all UNH football & men's hockey broadcasts and weekly coaches' shows, a select number of men's basketball, women's basketball, and women's hockey broadcasts, as well as "Wildcat Sports Today", a three-minute daily update concerning UNH athletics. The games can also be heard on the internet at www.UNHWildcats.com, through a service from Stretch Internet. Stretch has also partnered with UNH to develop a podcast page for UNH fans to listen to archived broadcasts. Veteran play-by-play man Jim Jeannotte will return for his 30th year broadcasting UNH men's basketball. Jeannotte will be joined by color analyst Mike Murphy, who enters his 11th season calling Wildcat men's hoop.

WILDCAT BASKETBALL STREAMING LIVE
UNHWildcats.com, via Stretch Internet Broadcast, will carry 10 UNH men's basketball home games, as well as a pair of road contests this season. If you cannot attend Wildcat basketball, you can still tune into the game from anywhere you can gain access to the internet. Fans can get to the UNH men's basketball broadcast site by going to the men's basketball schedule page at www.UNHWildcats.com.

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