Four Wildcats scored in double digits as UNH held off UMass Lowell in another America East thriller. After an explosive first quarter and a competitive third, the Wildcats went on to win 63-55.
Sophomore Carlie Pogue led the Wildcats in scoring with 14 points. Fellow sophomore Aliza Simpson and senior Elizabeth Belanger tallied 11 points. Junior Kristen Anderson scored 10 points to add more firepower. Anderson and Simpson were combined to go a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Pogue and Belanger combined for 15 rebounds.
For the majority of the season, the ‘Cats have come out slow, sloppy and have had to fight their way back into games. In their last game, against Stony Brook, the ‘Cats built a lead around their defense, but against the Riverhawks the offense was hot out of the gate, perhaps putting to rest the slow start trend the Wildcats have suffered through this season.
UNH saw itself leading 19-11 after a crucial first quarter. The Wildcats faltered in the second quarter as the Riverhawks cut into their lead, but the ‘Cats maintained the halftime lead 34-29.
The Wildcats led the whole game and were not outscored in any quarter. This America East tilt seemed to reverse common trends that plagued UNH this season. The Wildcats came out hot in the first quarter shooting the ball well and playing a clean game. They also maintained a lead in the third quarter and scored 13 points when, typically, they have trouble finishing.
Coach Brendan Copes touched on the turnover issue last game saying the goal is to keep the turnover number to under 14. On Wednesday, the Wildcats limited themselves to only eight turnovers, which played a huge role in the win.
Holding a six-point lead heading into the final frame, UNH kept its foot on the gas pedal and outscored UMass Lowell 16-14 and got a huge late-season conference win.
UNH is now on a two-game winning steak heading into the final three regular season games of the year. Potential wins over Hartford, Vermont, and UMBC can boost the Wildcats spot in the standing and their momentum heading into the post season.
UNH is currently 4-9 in conference play and 10-16 overall, and is currently the No. 7 team in the America East. UMBC, Hartford and Binghamton all sit immediately above the Wildcats in the standings, and wins to close out the regular season could mean a more favorable playoff matchup for the Wildcats.
UNH is back in action Saturday Feb. 20 against Hartford at Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham. The game is at 1 p.m.