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Heating up

In the last game of the regular season, the Wildcats were looking for revenge. After being down at the end of the first quarter, UNH rallied behind great ball movement, good patience, and individual effort to beat UMBC 67-59. The Wildcats evened the season series with the Retrievers 1-1.
The Wildcats were plagued by a slow start on Sunday. The team was misfiring and early turnovers allowed UMBC to take an early lead after the first quarter. But it was a game of runs for the Wildcats. The first came when the Wildcats face a 10-point deficit. UNH rallied a 9-0 run and took the lead at halftime.
Sophomore Carlie Pogue and senior Elizabeth Belanger led the scoring for the ‘Cats with 22 and 20 points respectively. Freshman Ashley Storey helped Pouge inside, adding seven points and five rebounds. UNH’s six turnovers allowed were the fewest all season.
“Eighteen assists to six turnovers is the stat of the game. We took care of the ball and moved it very well,” assistant coach Brendan Copes said.
Although UNH was led by outstanding individual efforts and great ball control, the team was still down in the third quarter. With 6:47 left in the third, UNH found itself trailing 36-29. The Wildcats went on an 11-0 run and never trailed again.
The message in the fourth quarter was clear: hold the lead. The Wildcats did just that and the team concluded the regular season beating four of their last five America East opponents. UNH finished the season 12-17 and 6-10 in conference play.
UNH was looking to bounce back on Sunday after a tough home loss to Vermont. Copes said that he wasn’t worried however, because this team has been bouncing back all year.
“The team has amazed me all year with our ability to continue fighting even after a slow start. We changed up our defense from man to zone and that really seemed to keep UMBC off balance,” Copes said.
The America East Quarterfinals begin Saturday, March 5, at Binghamton. UNH is the seventh seed and will play Maine or Albany.
Copes said the team is heating up at the right time for playoffs.
“As far as gearing up for the tournament, we need to bottle up exactly what we did today. This win should give us a little bit of confidence as well as a blue print for how we need to attack offensively,” Copes said.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, UNH honored the team’s senior players before a game against Vermont that the team unfortunately lost. Stephanie Spoto and Belanger are the two Wildcat seniors this year.
“We’ve always been such a close group on and off the court,” Belanger said. “I’ve had a great experience every single year here.”
“It’s been an incredible journey, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Spoto said.
The two seniors know the journey will be difficult, but they believe the team can string some wins together in the postseason.
“It’s never been easy for us, but we’ve always been able to fight back,” Spoto said. “For the five years I’ve been here, this team has fought.”

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