By SAM ROGERS
It may have been Friday the 13th, but there was nothing spooking the UNH women’s basketball team, which cruised to a 72-41 victory over North Atlantic Conference member Colby-Sawyer College.
In the first-ever meeting between the schools, the Wildcats shook off the early-season cobwebs and jitters. After trailing for the first 30 seconds, the Wildcats scored their first points of the season and never looked back.
There were several new rule changes in effect for NCAA women’s basketball. Most notably, games now feature four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves. Teams also now have five fouls per quarter before entering the bonus, and teams receive four timeouts per half.
In the first quarter the Wildcats used their size around the hoop, quick guard play, and un-selfish play to jump out to a 24-7 lead. Seniors Corinne Coia and Stephanie Spoto established their presence in the paint, scoring four points each in the opening frame.
Although the Wildcats cruised, the game was filled with turnovers and sloppy play.
“Our turnovers are an issue, and they had been an issue in our last two scrimmages,” UNH head coach Maureen Magarity said. Magarity also noticed her team’s early struggle, stating that her team looked “lazy” and needs to “start better”.
The second quarter adjustments from Colby-Sawyer included a switch from a loose man defense to a strict 2-3 zone look. The idea was to force the Wildcats out of the paint and force outside shots. Redshirt freshman Emily Peters, in her first collegiate game, seized that opportunity, scoring nine points in the second quarter. All nine points came on 3-point shots.
Coia was making her return to the court after missing all of last season with an injury. She led the Wildcats’ front court with 10 points, four rebounds and great defensive play.
“It was great just to see her back to her old self,” Magarity said. “She’s experienced, she’s a [fifth-year senior]. Just to have that leadership on the court again is nice. She’s a vocal leader.”
Senior guard Elizabeth Belanger, an America East Preseason All-Conference selection, entered the game just 60 points shy of 1,000 career points. She didn’t reach that mark in the opener but tallied 6 points and 3 rebounds in a half of play.
The Wildcats took a 46-17 lead into half and came out in the second half using their bench for the remainder of the game.
Six bench players saw action in the third quarter, and Stephanie Spoto led the team with eight points and four rebounds. With the Wildcats in control of this game, Magarity could give her freshmen the chance to play their first collegiate minutes. Ashley Storey, Sam Sabino, Alli Gribbin and Raven Brathwaite joined Peters as freshmen scoring in their first game.
“It was nice to see how everyone contributed, everyone that stepped on the floor did something positive,” Magarity said. “Our younger kids had a little bit of a confidence booster in their first collegiate game.”
“They brought energy to our team, and really contributed and showed that they deserve to play,” sophomore guard Aliza Simpson said.
The Wildcats took a 64-29 lead into the final quarter and stuck to their game plan, taking open outside shots, working the ball low, and not being selfish. The bench finished with 29 points. Simpson led the Wildcats with 11 points on the night. She also had four rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
“Today we were able to move the ball a lot, and get open pretty easily,” she said of her play.
The Wildcats face off against in-state foe Dartmouth on Monday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in Hanover. The Wildcats return home to take on the University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 22.