This past Tuesday, the UNH women’s basketball team (0-1) started their 2019-2020 season off against the #2 ranked and defending national champion Baylor Bears (1-0) in Waco, TX.  

As expected, UNH was way overmatched against the perennial division-I powerhouse. After a miserable first half where the Wildcats were only able to muster up three points against the tantalizing Baylor defense, they improved in the second half. The eventual final score was 97-29 in favor of the Bears. 

After a scoreless first quarter by the ‘Cats, senior guard Caroline Soucy was able to get UNH’s first two points of the season on a layup assisted by junior forward Maggie Ahearn with 6:15 left in the second. Junior guard Amanda Torres was able to get the third and final point of the half on a free throw.  

The Bears had a plethora of players that produced for them throughout the first two quarters. First-year forward NaLyssa Smith tallied nine points on two of three shooting and made 5-6 free throws. Junior guard Juicy Landrum was also a big piece of Baylor’s first half success as she had eight points along with two assists and a steal. Baylor led the Wildcats 51-3 after 20 minutes of play. 

Once the tumultuous first half ended, UNH’s moral was down and 10-year head coach Maureen Magarity could tell. After the game, she said that she knew at halftime, and understandably, that it was not going to be a game to remember. 

“Obviously this is going to be a really tough game and almost gets to the point where you don’t want to look at the score,” Magarity said.  

After halftime, the Wildcats came out with a renewed energy that had all but been eliminated by the Bears after the first part of the game. Baylor still continued to control the game on both ends, but UNH had more of a purpose on offense, as sophomore forward Ivy Gogolin hit a layup, the ‘Cats first points of the second half, just two minutes into the third quarter. 

Torres was able to follow up Gogolin’s bucket with an outburst of her own. She started off her scoring spurt with UNH’s first three-pointer of the night with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter, and then continued with a layup and two free throws later in the period. She led UNH on the night with 12 points.  

The second half was kind to both Smith and graduate forward Erin Degrate who transferred from Texas Tech after spending her last three seasons there. They finished with 21 and 18 points respectively. 

Smith and junior forward Lauren Cox recorded double-doubles on the night, which propelled Baylor to a 97-29 win, and they completed their first step to defend their division-I title. UNH is now 1-1 against Baylor all-time. 

Coach Magarity hopes that the better second half can be a springboard for her team’s confidence and mentality. 

“Hopefully it just shows their character a little bit, and I definitely thought they did that in the second half.” 

The Wildcats will return to New England to play their second game of the season against Bryant University on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.