After a record setting year in Durham, the ‘Cats were defeated by Maine 61-52 in the America East semifinals. UNH defeated Stony Brook 58-49 on March 4, in the quarterfinals to advance.
In Saturday’s matchup against Stony Brook, Carlie Pogue led the ‘Cats with 23 points and six rebounds. Brittni Lai and Kat Fogarty combined for 28 points in the win.
“I’m so proud of [Pogue], she’s been so consistent all year, [March 4 vs. Stony Brook] was her biggest game of her career in my opinion, and I’m just so proud of her,” head coach Maureen Magarity said in a postgame press conference with America East.
Sunday’s semifinal proved to be the toughest game the Wildcats had all season as their border rival Maine was determined to avenge its two regular season losses to UNH.
“It’s really hard, it’s heartbreaking, they worked so hard to get to the NCAA tournament. It stinks, it really does,” Magarity said.
The Black Bears opened the game up leading 6-0 and they were in control for most of the game. Their zone denied UNH from pushing the ball inside, causing turnovers, and forcing guards to take shots on the perimeter.
“That’s what I would do against us,” Magarity said about Maine’s zone defense.
With Pogue and Fogarty causing problems for teams all year, Maine took that strength away from UNH and forced other players to beat them and for the ‘Cats, those shots weren’t falling.
“They clogged up the middle a lot, we should have it around better and given our guards better looks,” Fogarty said.
UNH did lead by a point at the start of the fourth quarter but a quick run by the Black Bears made the game out of reach down the stretch.
“Basketball is a game of runs, we couldn’t stop their run and make a run back,” senior Kristen Anderson said.
UNH finishes the year with a 26-5 record and an impressive 16-2 record against conference opponents. This season the ‘Cats broke the record for most wins in a single season, and won their first outright conference championship in program history.
Prior to the ‘Cats opening playoff game, some hardware was handed out. The regular season conference champs were honored at the America East awards banquet for their great team, individual, and coaching skill this season.
Carlie Pogue was named the America East Player of the Year and named to the first team all-conference. Forward Kat Fogarty was named to the second team all-conference, and guards Olivia Healy and Brittni Lai were named to the third team all-conference.
Head Coach Maureen Magarity was also named America East coach of the year.
The journey for the first conference title and NCAA tournament appearance may be over this season for the Wildcats, but UNH will play in the NIT tournament in the coming weeks, with a bracket to come out after conference champions are determined.
The Wildcats also return many of their starting roster next season. UNH returns four of five starters and all their bench players. The chemistry between the team is sure to rise while the talent and playing ability will likely follow suit.
It was not the ending of the season Magarity, the team, or Wildcat fans wanted, but after a groundbreaking season for the program, plenty of talent returning, the future is bright for America East dominance in Durham.