DURHAM, N.H. – University of New Hampshire (UNH) women’s basketball (5-11, 5-8 AE) dominated the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) (4-13, 4-9 AE) on Sunday by a final of 76-67. The final score doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as the Wildcats seemed to have the game wrapped up by halftime.
The first half was comfortable for UNH. Sophomore guard Helena Delaruelle got things started for the Wildcats with two three-pointers to start the game. UNH kept their lead for the entirety of the first quarter. Kelsey Hogan’s team looked sharp after a two-week break between games. A solid team effort gave the ‘Cats a 19-15 lead after the first quarter of action.
Things only got better for UNH in the second quarter. The Wildcats knocked down five three-pointers, including junior forward Ivey Gogolin’s first of the season. The quarter was one of UNH’s best of the season. Hogan’s young team put up 26 points and allowed only 14 taking a commanding 45-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.
UNH stretched the lead to 18 to start the third. The Wildcats were less dominant in this quarter, splitting the quarter 11-11. Thanks to their earlier efforts, the ‘Cats were still comfortably in front 56-40.
Things got a little too close for comfort in the fourth quarter, however. After leading by as many as 18 points, the Wildcats saw their advantage dwindle to just seven points with 2:07 to play. A few baskets and long possessions from UNH secured the win that Hogan’s team certainly deserved. Some late free throws gave UNH the 76-67 victory. The win sent UNH above NJIT in the America East standings as the fifth seed.
Coach Hogan complimented the team’s performance and highlighted the first half and hot start after the two-week break in her postgame remarks. Hogan also called the late lapse in the fourth quarter a “growing piece” for the young team.
“The nerves are high because we haven’t been there,” she explained.
After the Wildcats’ lead dwindled to just seven points in the fourth, coach Hogan called a timeout to reorganize her team. The advice given in the huddle was a testament to Hogan’s understanding of her team’s youth.
“We do a nice little breathing [exercise] during the timeout. We do a nice little inhale-exhale,” said Hogan.
After a series split in early December, Hogan was incredibly proud of the growth of her team.
“I’m just really happy with the effort, especially our starting half. I’ll even say the bench effort too in the first half was phenomenal,” she said.
UNH’s starting five all scored in double figures, led by senior guard Amanda Torres with 15 and closely followed by Gogolin with 14. First-year guard Adara Groman put up 12 hitting a pair of threes. Delaruelle and sophomore guard Brooke Kane finished with 11 each.
Gogolin, who added 10 rebounds and four assists along with her 14 points, said the game was an all-around team win. On how far the team has come since last playing NJIT, Gogolin said she was excited for the opportunity to show off the team’s improvement.
“We try and to improve every day at practice,” said Gogolin. “Two weeks is a long time I think we got better in that time and especially the two months since we played NJIT last, we’ve gotten a lot better.”
This Wildcats team certainly looked better than the one showcased earlier this season. Apart from the narrow upset against the University of Maine, Hogan’s team had lacked a statement win until now.
The ‘Cats are back in action against UMass Lowell Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday, Feb. 14.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JACK BOUCHARD: UNH junior forward Ivy Gorgolin controlling the ball and organizing the offense