The University of New Hampshire women’s basketball team (6-13, 3-4) looked to extend their winning streak to three this past Saturday afternoon against Binghamton (14-6, 3-4), but they fell short in a 63-53 effort.
Both senior forward Ashley Storey and junior guard Amanda Torres paced the ‘Cats with 14 points apiece, and they both added three and five rebounds respectively.
Saturday’s battle was a game of runs. In the opening three minutes of the first quarter, Binghamton dominated the play on both sides of the court and ran out to a 9-0 lead. Despite multiple comeback bids from UNH, the Bearcats would never relinquish their lead.
UNH Senior guard Caroline Soucy would help the Wildcats claw their way back into the contest as she hit an elbow jumper to stop the bleeding. After some back-and-forth action and a last second put back from sophomore forward Ivy Gogolin, the scoreboard read 20-12 at the end of the first frame in Binghamton’s favor.
The beginning of the second quarter was much different than the first, as Torres and Storey led UNH to within four points of the Bearcats with five minutes left in the half, as they capped off an 8-0 run. However, Binghamton would spoil the Wildcat run by sinking a three-point shot to push the lead back to seven and the UNH crowd energy fizzled out shortly thereafter. The Bearcats finished out the half strong and they held a 32-21 halftime lead.
UNH made multiple efforts to climb back in the game, but Binghamton was determined to keep their double-digit lead. They outscored UNH in the third quarter 18-14 as they shot 5-10 from the field. Bearcats senior guard Kai Moon tallied 12 of her game-high 25 points in the third, and the Wildcats had no answer for her aggressive play.
The ‘Cats made a surge that lasted throughout the fourth quarter, as Binghamton seemed to lower their energy level on both sides of the court. The game concluded with a score of 63-53 in favor of the Bearcats.
The loss wrapped up the first half of UNH’s conference schedule, and they sport a 3-4 record, which is tied for fourth best in the America East behind Stony Brook, UMass Lowell and Maine.
UNH looked to rebound Wednesday morning against conference foe UVM (9-12, 3-5), as they traveled to face the Catamounts in Patrick Gym.
The Wildcats started the game with more urgency compared to their performance against Binghamton, which set the tone for their eventual 59-51 victory.
On the opening possession of the game, UNH first-year guard Helena Delaruelle stuck a three-pointer on an assist from her senior backcourt mate, Caroline Soucy. This three was huge for the ‘Cats because of the emphasis they put on getting off to a strong start according to UNH head coach Maureen Magarity.
“We have to make a concerted effort to start better because that trickles down and affects the energy level and how we play the rest of the game.”
Wildcats sophomore forward Maggie Ahearn followed up Delaruelle’s bucket with a layup of her own to push the early lead to five. For the remainder of the quarter, the two teams traded baskets and UNH’s lead was cut to one when UVM first-year forward Delaney Richason powered her way to a two-point basket with 47 seconds to go.
Both teams continued to stay locked in a tight battle throughout the latter part of the first half. UNH had led wire-to-wire until first-year Catamounts guard Emma Utterback sunk two free throws to tie the game at 27 apiece with 2:40 left on the clock. The Wildcats would soon relinquish their lead with a free throw from Torres, and they took a 32-2 lead into halftime.
The third quarter proved to be the Caroline Soucy show, as she netted nine of her team-high 18 points in the frame. UNH opened the quarter on a 6-2 run that ended in a fast-break layup by Soucy off a Catamount turnover. This run forced UVM head coach Alisa Kresge to take a timeout to stop the bleeding.
Kresge seemed to put a fire under her team in the timeout as they went on a run of their own to cut UNH’s lead to 40-39, but Soucy responded with a longball of her own.
Wednesday’s fourth quarter started out with a similar narrative as the previous three as the Wildcats were leading, but the last 10 minutes were nothing short of a rollercoaster.
To kick off the quarter, UVM’s Utterback hit two free throws which cut the Wildcats lead to one. This slim 45-44 lead would stay glued to the scoreboard for the next three-plus minutes as a scoring drought hit both teams.
Catamounts sophomore guard Sarah Wells put an end to the dry spell and hit two free throws to give UVM their first lead of the game. UNH’s Gogolin made sure that the opponent’s lead didn’t stick as she responded with two free throws of her own.
UNH forced UVM into three straight turnovers after Gogolin’s free throws and the Catamounts’ play started to unravel at this stage in the game. This stretch proved to be the deciding moment in the game, which left the ‘Cats with a 51-46 lead.
From this point on, UVM only had one chance to get back in the game when they hit a three to cut the lead to four with 29 seconds to play. They decided to try and make UNH hit free throws while attempting three-pointers on the offensive end to make the game close, but Torres hit all four of her free throws to seal the Wildcats win.
UNH will look to get above .500 in America East play for the first time this season when they return to action against UMass Lowell this coming Saturday, Feb. 1, in Lundholm Gymnasium at 12 p.m.