By GREG LAUDANI, STAFF WRITER
The UNH women’s basketball team struggled to get anything going offensively against the America East-leading Albany, as the Wildcats fell 74-48 Wednesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium. The loss was UNH’s third straight, as it falls to 14-8 overall and 6-4 in conference play.
Forward Kaylee Kilpatrick delivered team-highs of 17 points and eight rebounds in the lopsided defeat. She shot eight for 14 from the floor.
However, Kilpatrick was the only Wildcat who scored in double figures. Guard Elizabeth Belanger came next-closest, as she finished with eight points on three-of-eight shooting from the field and two of four from the free-throw line.
UAlbany countered with four players scoring at least 10 points. Imani Tate led the Great Danes with 17, while Shereesha Richards and Sarah Royals added 12 each. Zakiya Saunders scored 10 points in the win.
This game was competitive through half of the first period, as UAlbany (16-7, 9-1 in America East play) held an 18-15 lead with 8:52 to play in the half. Then the Great Danes took command with a 21-6 run that helped UAlbany take a 39-21 lead at halftime.
The contest was never really in reach for the Wildcats after Albany’s run, as UNH failed to gain any offensive rhythm in the second half. The Wildcats managed to make only 18 of their 56 total shots (32.1 percent) in the game. Meanwhile, the Great Danes hit 49.1 percent (27 of 55) of their field goal attempts.
UNH head coach Maureen Magarity said that turnovers cost her team several potential scoring opportunities. The Wildcats committed 17 total turnovers against UAlbany, with 10 coming in the first half and seven in the second.
“I felt like we had way too many careless turnovers tonight,” Magarity said. “I didn’t really feel like they forced us to turn the ball over that much off their pressure. It was just more of our careless passing and trying to do too much.”
The Great Danes grabbed 24 points off Wildcat turnovers. UAlbany turned the ball over only three less times than UNH, but the Great Danes were able to take advantage of mistakes more often. The Wildcats nabbed 11 points off UAlbany’s 14 giveaways.
Limiting turnovers is what Magarity said she wants to emphasize to her team following the loss, And according to the coach, improving her team’s ball security begins with cranking up defensive intensity at practice.
“In practice we need to continue to focus more on our defense,” Magarity said. “And that will help because a lot of times, our offense isn’t really forced to go up against pressure like this (UAlbany’s defensive pressure) in practice. And then when we get to the game, it’s kind of like a deer-in-the-headlights sort of look.”
The Wildcats have lost their last three games, but they look to return to their winning ways at UMBC on Saturday, Feb. 7.