Emotions were heavy this past Saturday, as the UNH women’s basketball team (10-16, 7-7) celebrated the accomplished careers of their four seniors: forward Ashley Storey, guard Caroline Soucy, forward Maggie Ahearn and guard Sarah Clement.
After the game, head coach Maureen Magarity gushed over her future graduates.
“I’m so proud of the seniors and how they stepped up in the second half of the season. They did the same in this game.”
The Wildcat’s second half senior day might have been their best all-around game of the season as they had four players finish in double figures on their way to a nail-biting 56-53 home win against UAlbany (9-18, 5-9). This was their third consecutive win.
The first quarter was played with an enormous amount of energy from both sides. UNH seemed determined to start fast on their senior day as they were aggressive defensively and played with great pace offensively.
Ahearn opened up the scoring with 8:03 left in the first quarter as she finished an easy layup off a steal and breakaway.
UNH’s energy did not translate to quality play for much of the first quarter, and UAlbany ran out to a 13-10 lead despite five points apiece from Soucy and Ahearn.
The second ten minutes were not pretty for the ‘Cats to say the least. They tallied three points and had multiple missed layups in a quarter to forget. Despite the lack of scoring, UAlbany was only able to mount a 22-15 lead heading into halftime. Magarity mentioned that she didn’t have any major adjustments for her team at halftime and that the missed shots were the key.
“When you execute so well and you get great shots, you deserve to score those. Reward yourself. That’s what I told them at halftime.”
The third quarter was a much different story for UNH and Ahearn made sure of it. She came out of the tunnel with a very assertive mindset and started off the period converting all four of her free throws. This cut the Great Dane’s lead to three with 8:37 left on the clock.
Later in the quarter, Wildcats junior guard Amanda Torres had a sequence where she hit two foul shots and then proceeded to steal the ball from UAlbany on the other end. She then skipped a pass to Storey downcourt which set her up for an uncontested layup to cut the deficit to two.
UNH continued to fight their way back into the game and they came within one point of the Great Dane’s lead twice in the third. The first came on sophomore forward Ivy Gogolin’s three-point play with 4:04 on the clock and the last was on a swished three pointer from Soucy with 2:02 to play in the quarter.
The ‘Cats finally took the lead when first-year guard Brooke Kane drained a three in her first minute of action. The shot put them up 37-35 and they finished the period in front, 38-37.
The fourth quarter was a roller coaster ride. Both teams exchanged six-point runs to start the quarter, and the turning point came with 2:05 left in the game. Torres had another score-steal-score sequence, much like the one in the first half, and this one turned the momentum totally around giving the ‘Cats a 52-51 lead.
UAlbany first-year forward Helene Haegerstrand hit two free throws to put her team back up, but UNH first-year guard Helena Delaruelle hit a reverse layup to recapture the lead.
The Great Danes called timeout with 35 seconds remaining on the clock to draw up a play to take the lead, but their execution was poor, and they turned it over right into Delaruelle’s hands.
Inexplicably, UAlbany did not decide to foul until there was 2.7 seconds left in the game and Torres sunk two free throws to seal the deal for the Wildcats. UAlbany head coach Colleen Mullen explained her thought process of not fouling UNH postgame.
“With the advancements of the timeouts it makes it different. We were down by one point and we just needed to get a stop. If we got a stop we have time on the clock and I can call a timeout to advance the ball.”