Following its first win, UNH traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the University of Kentucky in a non-conference matchup. The No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats knocked off UNH 92-43.
With the loss, UNH falls to a 1-2 overall record, and a winless 0-2 record on the road. Kentucky held an eight-point lead after the first quarter but they outscored UNH 58-20 in the second and third period.
“Against Kentucky we knew we had our hands full against two potential All-Americans in [Makayla] Epps and [Evelyn] Akhator, but what I felt hurt us more than anything was our struggle making shots in the first half,” head coach Maureen Magarity said.
The well-rounded junior class led UNH, as forwards Carlie Pogue and Kat Fogarty combined for 13 points and 11 rebounds. Guards Aliza Simpson and Brittni Lai combined for 14 points.
Simpson added five rebounds and Lai added onto her assist total notching two in the matchup.
Eleven UNH players took the court as Lai and Pogue led the team in minutes played with 29. Freshman guard Caroline Soucy added six points and sophomore guard Sam Sabino tallied two assists and three points in 10 minutes of playing time.
The paint presence for UNH will be its advantage in most games, but not against the dominant Kentucky. UNH was outscored in the paint 38-8 and outrebounded 39-35. Kentucky shot 52 percent from the field while UNH hit 24 percent of their field goals.
“I liked our toughness and felt we were ready to go and weren’t intimidated with playing the number 15 team in the country,” Magarity said. “I don’t think the score was indicative of how tough we played, it was just a really poor shooting game for us.”
UNH has proven to have a strong physical presence early on, but also still needs to improve on its finishing around the rim. The next stretch of northeast opponents offer a great test to improve its game.
The guard play of Lai and Simpson needs to be more established, as for the first time in her career, Simpson can focus solely on being a scorer on offense, rather a point guard.
Scoring seems to be the issue for UNH and Magarity points out a solution.
“We need to start scoring the ball easier. We need to have at least three people in double figures scoring to put ourselves in the position to win these next two home games,” Magarity said.
UNH has now played a Division III school and a top-20 team in the country in back-to-back games which skews the identify of the team so far.
“I think we are still trying to figure out our identity as a team. These past two games were unique in the sense of who we played, so I’m hoping to start finding our rhythm the next two games at home,” Magarity said.
Next up, UNH takes on the Bryant Bulldogs at home. The game is Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.