In a heated battle this past Saturday, the University of New Hampshire women’s basketball team fell to rival Stony Brook by a score of 52-50.
Stony Brook came into the game as the top team in the America East with a record of 10-0 in conference play, and UNH currently trails them by 6.5 games in the standings.
The game began as a back-and-forth affair as both teams got the chances they wanted offensively. Midway through the first quarter, junior forward India Pagan finished a contested layup and graduate guard Kaela Hilaire hit a three-pointer to push the Seawolves’ lead to 14-6.
The Wildcats showed resolve in the second frame as they cut the Stony Brook lead to three on two free throws from senior forward Ashley Storey. They fought throughout the whole quarter, and eventually got the deficit down to 21-20 after the media break when junior guard Amanda Torres finished a layup at the basket.
Right before the end of the first half, Torres was able to draw a foul and go to the line. She stuck both free throws and UNH only trailed 28-26 at the half.
UNH continued to battle into the third quarter. After Pagan scored the first basket of the half, Soucy was able to respond promptly with a three-pointer on the other end to give UNH their first lead of the game.
Storey was able to push the UNH lead to three when she made an open layup with 8:22 to go in the third and she went on to score eight of her 14 points in the quarter. The point margin would stay consistent for most of the quarter, and UNH held a two-point lead heading into the last frame.
Defense dominated the fourth as neither team scored for the opening three minutes. Stony Brook junior guard Victoria Johnson was the first to get on the score sheet for either team, and she hit two free throws to tie the game at 39 apiece.
Stony Brook would retake the lead when junior forward McKenzie Bushee hit a free throw with 5:31 left in the game, and they would extend it on the next possession when redshirt junior forward Oksana Gouchie-Provencher hit a three-pointer off the break.
The Wildcats later tied the game back up with 2:31 remaining, but a turnover on a crucial inbounds play in the final seconds would be their downfall. Torres hit a layup as time ran out, but it was not enough as the scoreboard read 52-50 with the clock at zeros.
UNH tried to avenge their tough loss Wednesday morning in Lundholm Gymnasium, but they were unsuccessful against UVM, losing 44-42 on “Education Day.”
Torres started the low-scoring affair on fire for UNH, as she hit a three to start the game and went on to score the team’s first seven points.
UVM didn’t score for the first 5:11 of the opening quarter until senior forward Hanna Crymble snuck in a layup off the glass.
The Catamounts overtook UNH’s lead with 8:42 to go in the second quarter when sophomore guard Sarah Wells hit a three-point jumper, but the Wildcats got it right back after Torres hit a jumper of her own on the other end.
After back-and-forth play for much of the first half, UVM finally went on the first major run when they hit three three-pointers on consecutive possessions to give themselves a 19-14 lead with 2:05 to go in the half. This score would hold until halftime.
Energy-wise, UNH’s second half was much more competent. Soucy swished a three-pointer to start the half which gave them a boost, but UVM responded right back with a three of their own to preserve their lead.
When UNH fell down by nine points with 4:50 to play in the third quarter, it was junior forward Maggie Ahearn that stepped up to bring UNH back into the game.
After two good free throws from Crymble, Ahearn hit a three-pointer, stole the ball on the defensive end and then proceeded to make a layup to give her five straight points. This sequence cut the deficit to four, and after UVM answered with a bucket, Torres hit a three to make it a three-point game. Torres was appreciative of Ahearn’s energy after the game.
“She gave us so much energy. We needed someone to score and we were struggling at one point and she came in and our energy was a lot better. She gave us a spark on the offensive and defensive end.”
Ahearn continued her productive quarter with a monster block on Crymble and then hit a layup to end the third quarter, leaving UVM with a 32-31 lead.
Jumpers from first-year guard Helena Delaruelle and Torres gave UNH a 36-32 lead with 6:10 left in the fourth.
The game became tense when Storey hit her first free throw with 2:40 remaining, giving the Wildcats a 39-36 lead, but when she missed the second, Ahearn got one of her many offensive rebounds to take more time off the clock.
On the ensuing possession, Storey drained a three to give her team a six-point lead with 1:23 to go. Crymble later responded with a three of her own with 45 seconds to play, and everyone in the packed Lundholm Gymnasium was on the edge of their seats.
UNH failed to score on their next possession, and a timeout gave UVM time to set up a play. Catamount junior guard Josie Larkins then hit a wide open three from the top of the key to tie the game at 42. There was a major defensive mix-up for UNH on the play.
The Wildcats promptly called timeout and drew up a set, but they turned over the ball shortly after inbounding, giving UVM a chance to take the lead, and that’s what they did.
UVM ran action for Crymble on the block and she was able to slip in the paint for an easy two after Storey gambled on the pass. It seemed as though Crymble double dribbled, but it wasn’t called and the basket counted. This play would end up being the winning basket, as Torres missed the tying layup when the clock hit zeros.
UNH head coach Maureen Magarity thought this play was a killer and that her team should have done a better job.
“(Storey) thought she had the position to make that play but she over-gambled. If Crymble goes to the rim, Crymble is going to make a shot. (Ahearn) was late on the help. It was an iso play that we needed to do a better job of keeping her in front and forcing her to make a tougher shot over us.”
UNH will look to get back on track when they welcome UMBC to Durham on Saturday, Feb 15 at 12 p.m.