The Wildcats began their non-conference home schedule Monday, Nov. 15 against New England College. In dominating fashion, the ‘Cats won their first game of the season 58-38.
Juniors Kat Fogarty and Carlie Pogue led the ‘Cats in scoring, tallying 11 and nine points respectively. The two forwards also combined for 10 rebounds in only 15 minutes of playing time each.
“It was one of the games where we had a lot of size, the size advantage was huge,” head coach Maureen Magarity said. “It got us out of rhythm, to be able to get the guards involved [it] took a while to get into that flow.”
Fellow classmate Morgan Bassett-Smith and sophomore Emily Peters led the team in minutes played with 24 and 21 minutes respectively. Sophomore Ashley Storey added 10 rebounds and eight points coming off the bench.
“I think we played well, we showed what we’re made of,” junior guard Aliza Simpson said. “It was nice to be able to get all of our teammates in and get experience for them.”
UNH’s bench saw a lot of action against the Pilgrims as the starting five only played the first half, which gave exposure and playing time to those younger, more inexperienced players.
“It was a nice game to get everybody in,” Magarity said. “We were able to get out and push the ball well, overall I’m pleased, it’s a win.”
The third quarter gave the young Wildcat bench trouble, as they were out-hustled, and out-worked, which led to a 19-6 third quarter point total in favor of the Pilgrims.
“I was obviously very frustrated,” Magarity said. “A lot of those players are coming off the bench for us. This time of year every minute counts, we’re still looking for what our rotation is going to be, and who is going to play.”
Although the rotation of this team isn’t set in stone, the identity of this Wildcat team is coming together. Pogue, Fogarty and Storey are going to have a physical presence that is going to be tough to match. The team overall rebounds well, as they have totaled 100 rebounds through the first two games.
The emergence of Brittni Lai to the team has opened things up at the guard position. Simpson, who ran the point last year, has found herself in a more typical shooting guard role where she can focus on creating offense.
The deep guard play of Lai, Simpson, Peyton Booth and Peters could be relied on heavily this season. As teams collapse to the middle to focus on the Wildcat forwards, the guards need to be able to execute on offense and take advantage of open shots. However, the ‘Cats also need to focus on the defensive side of the ball.
“We need to get better at our defense,” Simpson said. “We need to know who we’re playing, who has help defense and we need to be more confident because we’re a good team and we have to be confident in that.”
After dealing with a Division III team, the ‘Cats face off against No. 19 Kentucky, in Lexington, Kentucky on Thursday, Nov. 17.
The Wildcats return home Nov. 22, to take on Bryant University at 5 p.m.