BURLINGTON, Vt. - The New Hampshire Wildcats held the lead twice in the second half, but could not hold off the Vermont Catamounts as the home team earned a 57-54 victory Wednesday night in America East women's basketball action at Patrick Gymnasium.
Behind 39-31 with 13:54 remaining in the second half, the Wildcats outscored the Catamounts 12-1 over the next four minutes to go on top 43-40. Ray Williams (Mississauga, Ontario) hit a jumper at the 6:50 mark to make the score 45-42, but that would be the last field goal for UNH until the final seconds, as Vermont came back to retake the lead, 48-45.
Despite struggling from the field, the Wildcats used free throws by Lindsay Adams (Theresa, N.Y.) and Danielle Clark (Corinna, Maine) to go ahead 49-48 with 3:20 left. Vermont's Brittany Cross took over, making four free throws, then hitting a jumper with 44 seconds remaining to give the Catamounts a comfort zone.
Clark led the Wildcats with 14 points, while Williams earned her second double-double in a week with 13 points and ten rebounds. However, Williams struggled from the free throw line, missing four shots from the charity stripe in the second half that would have extended UNH's advantage.
Ebony Woods (Philadelphia, Pa.) hit three shots from behind the three-point line and earned nine points, eight rebounds, and four assists. UNH point guard Whitney Edwards (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) contributed five points, three rebounds, five assists, and six steals, while Adams added eight points and four rebounds to the Wildcat effort.
Cross led all players with 15 points, plus she pulled down a team-high seven rebounds and earned two steals. Ashleigh Cuncic hit three three-pointers early in the game and finished with 14 points and six steals, and Alexis Castro, the leading scorer in the conference coming into the game, contributed ten points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Neither team shot the ball exceptionally well, as both squads hit under 40 percent of their field goal attempts and less than 70 percent of their free throw tries. Vermont (9-16, 5-10 America East) won the rebounding battle, 38-31, but each team earned nine steals in the close contest.
New Hampshire (15-12, 7-9 America East) is locked in as the sixth seed for the Friendship Cottage Cheese America East Championship. The Wildcats will face third-seeded Boston University in the quarterfinals on Friday, March 10, at 2:30 p.m. at the Chase Arena in West Hartford, Conn.