After a week off from games, UNH looked fresh and energized as they topped conference foe Binghamton 64-49. The Wildcats were in the driver’s seat from the opening tip and they continued to dominate for the entire game.
Freshman Ashley Storey had her coming out party Saturday. Entering the game, she was averaging 3.7 points per game, and had a career high of nine points. She finished the game with 22 points, shooting 10-12 from the field.
“I’m usually one of those players who likes to pass a lot,” Storey said, “but their defense was giving me my shots.”
Along with Storey, senior Elizabeth Belanger and Aliza Simpson found themselves in double-digits scoring. Belanger had 19 points and 12 rebounds while Simpson tallied 11 points and four boards.
The ‘Cats have had a tough time scoring all season, especially in the opening quarter, but Saturday proved that they came ready to play. UNH scored 17 points in the first frame and held a two-point lead after 10 minutes.
There would be no scoring drop-off for UNH in this game, as they went on to extend their lead to 11 at the half. In the crucial third quarter, where the Wildcats have had trouble, they flexed their muscles. After great ball work, unselfish play and a buzzer beater by Peyton Booth, UNH had a 48-35 lead going into the fourth.
Assistant coach Brendan Copes took over the bench with head coach Maureen Magarity out on maternity leave. Copes had nothing but praise for the way the ‘Cats played, and how they’ve remained positive all season long.
“This team has not stopped grinding, they bring it every day, they bring the energy,” Copes said. “They stay positive.”
Some offensive trends remained for the Wildcats on Saturday, however, with Belanger tallying another double-double, Simpson moving the ball well and Booth coming off the bench and contributing. With senior co-captain Corinne Coia still sidelined due to injury, someone needed to step up in the paint. Ashley Storey took on that role and Copes had high praise for the young forward.
“She’s the nicest kid you’ll ever meet, and the most unselfish player you’ll ever meet.” Copes said “She’s an outstanding passer and she can finish around the rim.”
With a solid fourth quarter, UNH crushed all hopes of a Binghamton comeback.
The Wildcats are now in the second cycle of America East play, and start off with a win. Last time around, after they lost to Binghamton, they lost their next three conference games. They have a chance to get revenge as they play Maine, Albany and Stony Brook in succession. This is a huge test for the ‘Cats as their next three opponents are atop the conference standings.
“This could be a good turning point for us,” Copes said.
“It’s good to start off the second cycle with a win, so we’re pretty excited about that,” Storey said.
The Wildcats are back at the Lundholm Gymnasium on Sunday, Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. against Stony Brook. The game will be the annual Breast Cancer Awareness game.