Despite a 10-point lead after the first quarter, the Wildcats dropped their home opener to Ivy League member Cornell University 61-56.
In its first road test, UNH held a three-point lead at the half, but were outscored in the second half by eight. Junior Carlie Pogue was the leading scorer for the ‘Cats as she tallied 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, a career-high.
“I thought we started out the game at Cornell really strong and executed our game plan well taking a 20-7 lead in the first quarter,” head coach Maureen Magarity said. “We got into major foul trouble with our starting five in the first half and never really got back into the same flow, especially on the offensive end.”
Junior guard Brittni Lai scored 17 points and added five assists, a team high, in her first game as a Wildcat. Lai and fellow teammate Kat Fogarty came to Durham from Marist College where they played their freshman year.
Lai played all 40 minutes in the game, proving early that her talent on the court is valued highly to this UNH team.
Juniors Fogarty and Aliza Simpson combined for 14 points and 12 rebounds. With the rising post play of Pogue and sophomore Ashley Storey and the addition of Fogarty, the ‘Cats have the makings for stellar forward play.
“[Pogue] and [Lai] dominated the game and definitely were the go-to players,” Magarity said. “They couldn’t handle [Pogue] inside and she probably would have had at least 10 more points if we could have had a few more possessions in place of the [turnovers].”
UNH won the rebounding game as the ‘Cats grabbed 45 out of 70 boards and had a 16-9 edge in the offensive zone. Turnovers were the issue for the ‘Cats as they racked up 24 in the game which was a deciding factor after the five-point loss.
“Obviously the turnovers really hurt us and I feel that was the reason we couldn’t pull it out down the stretch,” Magarity said.
UNH played a zone defense rather than man to man which proved its benefits early. Once Cornell figured out how to break the zone, they gained momentum and UNH couldn’t establish its rhythm back.
The ‘Cats have proven they have two emerging stars within their ranks, but basketball is a team game and a solid team effort is required every game to be successful.
“We need more balance on the offensive end and need at least four people in double figures every night,” Magarity said. “We can’t bank on [Pogue] and [Lai] to have the numbers they had tonight every game, teams will start adjusting and doing everything they can to limit their touches.”
One game into the season starts to reveal the Wildcats’ identify. A short sample shows their positives in their game, but also the negative. Turnovers were an issue last year for the team, and early this season, they haven’t shaken that bad habit.
The ‘Cats make their home debut Monday, Nov. 14 against New England College at 7 p.m.
For more information on women’s basketball, follow TNH sports on Twitter @tnhsports or visit UNH athletics at unhwildcats.com.