SCOUTING VERMONT (18-11, 12-4 AE)
Vermont has won six of its last seven games and earned an 84-57 home victory against Binghamton (Mar. 7) to finish out the regular season ... Courtnay Pilypaitis led the Catamounts with 23 points, six assists and four steals ... The squad’s leading scorer (14.4 ppg) went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc ... May Kotsopoulos and Kelli Poles added 14 and 10 points, respectively ... The Catamounts shot 50 percent (16-32) from the floor in the final frame, garnering 44 second-half points ... Vermont fell at Hartford, 57-47, March 4 and was led in scoring by Kotsopoulos, who tallied 14 points ... Vermont is one of the best defensive teams in the conference, as the Catamounts lead the America East in field goal defense (36.6%), 3-point field goal defense (27.5%) and in steals (9.3 spg).
SCOUTING NEW HAMPSHIRE (8-22, 6-10 AE)
New Hampshire dropped two America East games to close out the regular season … Down by three to Binghamton with six ticks left on the clock, Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) sunk a trey to even the score, 53-53 … The Bearcats, however, hit a shot at the buzzer to grab the win … LaRosa finished the game with 10 points for the Wildcats, while Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) posted a team-high 11 points and seven rebounds ... Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) matched her career high in assists with 11 in the game ... Simpson finished with 17 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals … Kate Early (Corning, N.Y.), who registered the first five points of the game, pulled down a team-high nine rebounds for the Wildcats ... In the game at Hartford, Williams led the charge for the Wildcats for the fifth straight game as she posted 15 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds … Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) chipped in with nine points for the Wildcats.
Tonight’s matchup will mark the sixth time New Hampshire will face Vermont in a conference tournament. Last season, the Wildcats fell to Vermont, 70-45, in the quarterfinals. In 2001, the sixth-seeded Wildcats fell to the No. 3-seeded Catamounts, 72-52, marking the only other quarterfinal matchup. The teams have meet three times in semifinal action, with the first battle in 1994 when No.4 New Hampshire fell to the third-seeded Catamounts, who went on to win the championship. In 1996, the second-seeded Wildcats dropped a 74-70 overtime game to No. 3 Vermont. In 1997, the Wildcats, as the third seed, fell to the second-seeded Catamounts, 63-60.
LET THE MADNESS BEGIN
For the third straight season the Wildcats have finished with the same conference record as another America East team and have been granted a seed based on tiebreaker criteria. New Hampshire finished the regular season tied with UMBC for fifth place, both finishing with a 6-10 conference record. The Retrievers won the second tie breaker (winning percentage against other conference teams in descending rank order) with a win against Binghamton (Jan. 24) and will take the fifth seed. The Wildcats, picked seventh by the conference coaches before the season, will enter the tournament as the sixth seed.
LOOKING AT THE JOURNEY
The Wildcats begin the tournament in the quarterfinal round game against Vermont. A victory by the Wildcats will lead to a semifinal matchup against the winner of the No. 2 Hartford and No. 7 Stony Brook game. With a semifinal victory, the Wildcats would advance to the finals for the first time in school history.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
For the second time this season, Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) was named America East Player of the Week, as announced by the conference Feb. 2. Williams, who averaged a double-double this past week, led the Wildcats in wins over Stony Brook (Feb. 24) and Albany (Feb. 28). Against the Seawolves, the forward tallied 17 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to earn her tenth double-double of the season. She also added a career-high three blocks in the game. At Albany, Williams earned her fifth 20-plus point game with a team-high 22 points. The forward, who shot 8 of 13 from the floor, also pulled down eight rebounds in the game.
LIGHTING UP THE LEAGUE
Junior Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) is one of just two players in the America East conference to rank in the top three in both scoring and rebounding. She is the conference leader in rebounding (8.2 rpg) and is third in scoring, averaging 16.0 points per game.
The Wildcats broke the school record for the most blocks in a single season, as they have twarted away 114 shots this season. New Hampshire, led by Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) with 47 blocks this season, posted seven blocks in three different contests this season.
AMONG ELITE COMPANY
By posting 17 points at Maine (Feb. 12), junior Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) cracked into the Wildcats' list of top-20 career scorers. The guard currently has 857 points in her career, which ranks 18th on the top-20 points list.
DOING THE DISHES
In the game against Binghamton (Mar. 4), Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) matched her career high in assists with 11. She is the first Wildcat player to dish out 10-plus assists since Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) dished out a career-high 10 assists in the Wildcats' game at UMBC (Jan. 10). Simpson was the first to record 11 assists since she did it on Feb. 2, 2008, also at UMBC.
McDONALD BLOCK PARTY
Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) thwarted away four blocks in the Wildcats’ game against Binghamton (Mar. 4) to match her career high for the sixth time during her two years at UNH. McDonald, who registered all of her blocks during the opening frame, has posted four blocks in three other games this season. In conference play, she earned four blocks against Stony Brook (Jan. 21) and Maine (Jan. 6), while also posting that many in games against Northeastern (Dec. 14) and UMass (Nov. 19).
New Hampshire, down by as many as 17 in the first half, overcame an eight-point (26-18) halftime deficit to defeat Stony Brook (Feb. 25), 50-49. In their next game the Wildcats battled back from a 14-point deficit to defeat Albany (Feb. 28). The effort marked the fifth time this season the Wildcats rebounded from a halftime deficit to earn a victory. Four of the five come-from-behind wins, which include games against Northeastern, Albany, Maine and Stony Brook came at home.