Last time out, the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team fell to No. 21 Maryland, 63-43, Monday night at the Comcast Center ... Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) scored 11 points and tallied seven assists in the contest ... The Terrapins set the tone early in the contest as they started off the game with a 20-9 run ... The Wildcats scratched their way right back into the action as they answered Maryland's run with an 11-3 scoring stretch, cutting the home team's lead down to just three points, with the score set at 23-20 at 4:21 ... Maryland closed out the half with a 26-20 advantage ... Maryland took control in the second stanza, leading by as many as 22 points and finishing out the night with a 7-2 run to secure the win ... Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) finished with nine points, three assists and two boards ... Diamon Beckford (Philadelpia, Pa.) notched seven points, seven rebounds and one block ... In UNH's previous outing, the Wildcats defeated St. Joseph's University 64-56 on Nov. 13 at Lundholm Gymnasium ... Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) scored 21 points, one shy of her career high, and tallied nine boards and two steals in the win ... The forward was named America East Player of the Game for her impressive performance in the contest ... For the Wildcats, the win is their first against an Atlantic-10 team since Dec. 4, 2005, when they defeated Massachusetts 59-43 at Lundholm Gymnasium ... Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) finished off the night with 15 points and five rebounds ... Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) tallied 12 points and one block ... Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) chipped in with two points, six boards and five assists.

Last time out, Massachusetts fell to St. John's 82-52 on Wednesday evening at the Mullins Center ... Kristina Danella led the way for the Minutewomen as she poured in 16 points and pulled down a team-best seven rebounds ... Jasmine Watson chipped in with 14 points, while Cerie Mosgrove and Diatiema Hill added eight and six points, respectively ... UMass would start out the action with an early 7-4 lead, but St. John's would fire back with a 9-0 run, holding onto the lead for the rest of the contest ... The Red Storm posted a 40-23 lead at the half ... The second stanza would be more of the same between both teams as the Minutewomen couldn't cut down the lead, drawing no closer than 13 points to the Red Storm ... St. John's shot 35-for-78 (48%) from the field, while UMass was 18-for-50 (36%) ... On the young season, Danella leads UMass with 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game ... Hill has also added solid production to the lineup with 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. 


So far this season the Wildcats have been playing stellar defense against some impressive company. They have held opponents to a .277 shooting percentage from the floor this year, while shooting an impressive .339 clip themselves. The fresh start comes against an A-10 (St. Joseph's) and an ACC (Maryland) opponent, following a season in which opponents shot .404 from the field against the ‘Cats. In Monday's matchup against No. 21 Maryland, the ‘Cats pestered the Terps into shooting .278 from the field, holding their offense to just 63 points, which was Maryland's second lowest point total in the last 29 games dating back to last season. The only team to hold the Terps to an even lower point total was Louisville, who defeated Maryland 77-60 in the NCAA Elite Eight on March 30, 2009. Against St. Joe's, the ‘Cats were just as impressive, holding the Hawks to just .277 shooting and a total of 56 points.


Diamon Beckford (Philadelphia, Pa.) tallied seven points and seven boards and one block against No. 21 Maryland on Monday night. The freshman helped the Wildcats respond to a 20-9 Terrapin run that started the game, as she knocked down a jumper at 7:44 to set off an 11-3 scoring stretch, which cut the home team's lead down to just three points, with the score set at 23-20 at 4:21. Including the jumper, she totaled five points on the run. This season Beckford has posted 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.


Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) tallied a season-high seven assists against No. 21 Maryland on Monday night. For the 2-guard turned point guard, Simpson has stepped up in her new role, notching 12 assists through the first two games this season. However, setting up her teammates is nothing new for multi-tooled guard, as she has has averaged 6.0 assists per game in her last five games dating back to last year. In that span she set a career-high in assists with 11 against Binghamton on March 4, 2009. Simpson has been stellar across the board for the 'Cats this year, averaging 6.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game.


Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) poured in 15 points in UNH's 64-56 win over St. Joseph's University on Nov. 13 at Lundholm Gymnasium. For the senior, it was her seventh straight game dating back to last year in which she has scored in double figures. In that span she has tallied 22 points on two occasions, the latest coming in a 66-62 win over Albany at the SEFCU Arena on Feb. 28, 2009. Her other 22-point outburst came against defending conference champion Vermont on Feb. 22, 2009.


In addition to her 21 points and nine rebounds in UNH's 64-56 win over St. Joseph's University on Nov. 13, Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) tied her career high in free throws made, knocking down 10-of-10 shots from the charity stripe. Included in that total are four tallies which came in the last two minutes of play to seal the victory for the 'Cats. It was the first time a Wildcat shot 100 percent from the foul line since Danielle Clark (12-12) did so on Nov. 26, 2006 against Iona. The last time Beliveau knocked down 10 free throws in a game came against Northeastern on Dec. 15, 2007. She finished that night with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals.


In Friday's win over St. Joseph's, Denise Beliveau (21), Candace Williams (15) and Lauren Wells (12) became the first trio of 'Cats to score in double figures since Feb. 28, 2009. In that contest, Williams netted 17 points, Wells tallied 11 points and Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) notched 10 points against the Albany Great Danes at Lundholm Gymnasium.


    The University of New Hampshire women's basketball team received 38 points to place fourth in the America East preseason poll that was released this afternoon by the conference.
    The Wildcats finished last season in fifth place in the conference with an 8-23 record, including a 6-10 mark against America East opponents, after being picked seventh in last year's preseason poll. New Hampshire's 38-point total tied with Boston University, who is coming off an undefeated conference regular season and its first appearance in the postseason WNIT. UMBC finished followed closely behind UNH and BU, with 35 points in the sixth place spot.
    Vermont, last year's conference champion, is predicted to once again capture the title, receiving five first place votes and tallying 61 points. Hartford is selected to finish second with 60 points, garnering four first place votes in the poll. Binghamton is predicted to finish third, with 45 points.
    Stony Brook University is slated to finish seventh (23 points), while the University of Maine (13) and the University at Albany (11 points) round out the final three spots in the poll.


    Entering her third year at the helm of the University of New Hampshire women's basketball program, head coach Kristin Cole begins the 2009-10 season with all the pieces aligned to make a run at the America East competition. With the return of every player from last year's team, as well as the addition of high impact newcomers, the Wildcats look poised to become a true contender in the conference. 
    The Wildcats will once again look to the veteran leadership of senior forward Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) and senior guard Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) to lead the team.
    Williams is fresh off her best season in white and blue becoming a staple in the Wildcat lineup starting every game last season. She made the most of her time on the court becoming one of just two players in the America East conference to rank in the top three in both scoring (16.1) and rebounding (8.1). Her efforts also led to her being selected to the America East All-Conference Second Team, becoming only the tenth player in program history to do so.
    Simpson also started in all 31 games for the Wildcats last season, averaging a career-high 11.5 points per game, a total that ranked second on the team and 12th in the conference. She also ranked second on the squad in assists and steals with 90 and 29, respectively. Simpson poises the greatest threat beyond the arc as she drained the best single-season mark for 3-pointers made in program history with 62 last year. Her most prolific performance came against Colgate (12/5) when she nailed six 3-pointers to tie a UNH single-game record.
    Perhaps the biggest addition to this year's squad is the return of Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.), who sat out last season due to injury. In her first season in 2007-08, she was the only freshman to play in 28 of 29 games, averaging 10 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, which topped the America East freshmen class. In fact, her performance was so impressive that she was named to the America East All-Rookie team and became the third player in UNH history to win the Rookie of the Year award. However, she didn't just stand out in scoring, as she also tallied the second best totals in rebounds and assists with 174 and 55, respectively.
    Anchoring the ‘Cats in the middle is senior Racheal Fowler (Glassboro, N.J.). Fowler, started in all 31 games last season, finishing with 5.9 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game, leading the team in field goal percentage (.513; 79-154).
    Fellow senior Chrissy Hall (Northbridge, Mass.) will also be called upon as she looks to build on a relatively productive 2008-09 season in which she played in all 31 games and started in 13. Her defensive prowess became truly evident last season as she ranked second on the team in blocks with 22, while also adding 22 steals. In addition, she averaged 3.6 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game.
    The Wildcats fill out the frontcourt with a plethora of experience and talent that is sure to provide solid depth and production throughout the 2009-10 campaign. Juniors Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.), Kate Early (Corning, N.Y.) and sophomore Kelley Flynn (Hopinkton, N.H.), provide a solid veteran presence and are sure to make an immediate impact this season.
    McDonald should prove to be a solid piece to the puzzle this season as she provides size and a solid defensive presence in the middle. After playing in all 31 games, including one start, McDonald emerged as a defensive stopper for the ‘Cats as she racked up a team-high 47 blocks. Her average of 1.5 blocks per game not only was a team high but ranked fourth in America East. She also notched 3.5 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game.
    Early played in all 31 games, including 14 starts for the ‘Cats last season. She ranked second on the team in field goal percentage (.493; 34-69), giving New Hampshire a solid overall lift with an average of 2.7 points per game. More importantly, she collected the third most rebounds and steals on the team with 130 and 23, respectively. 
    Rounding out the frontcourt for the Wildcats is Flynn who joins the Wildcats after playing in 21 collegiate games with the Richmond Spiders. Flynn is sure to make an impact with the ‘Cats under the basket as her 6-5 frame will give the Wildcats a presence in the middle. The McDonald's All-American nominee led Hopkinton High School to the State Semifinals and State Championships. She ranked as a top-10 player in Varsity New England Magazine for two straight years and was rated the 48th-best center in the country by the All-Star Girls Report Recruiting Service.
    The backcourt will feature a dynamic duo of young talented point guards as returning starter Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) and Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) should provide stability within the rotation.
    LaRosa played and started in all 31 games for the Wildcats last season posting an average of 6.4 points per game, while averaging a team best 3.0 assists per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. The sophomore didn't fall short defensively either, as she led the team in steals with 35 and chipped in with six blocks.
    As for Hogan, her season was cut short last year due to injury, but in the limited time she saw the court she provided a great offensive spark for the Wildcats. Starting in the three games in which she played, Hogan averaged 8.0 points per game along with 3.3 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. The freshman's best game came against Bryant (11/14) when she notched a career-high 20 points and eight rebounds against the Bulldogs.
    Sophomore Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) adds depth for the ‘Cats as she looks to build on a promising freshman campaign. Playing in 29 games for New Hampshire last season she posted 5.1 points per game and 1.9 rebounds per game. Her potential was best exhibited when she poured in a season high 13 points to go along with two assists, a block and a steal against Vermont (2/1).
    Freshmen Diamon Beckford (Philadelphia, Pa.), Jilliane Friel (Durham, N.H.), Jackie Lyons (Reading, Mass.) and Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y) will all compete for playing time.
    Beckford, who played at Upper Darby High School, became the fourth player in the school's history to surpass the 1,000-point marker, in her junior year. In her senior season she won league MVP and surpassed the 1,000 mark in career rebounds. The three-time All-Delco first-team member was a third-team All-Southeastern Pennsylvania selection her junior year, as well.
    Friel, who comes from a long line of New Hampshire basketball tradition, is the daughter of the late Gerry Friel, the winningest coach in the history of the UNH men's basketball program. The three-time Foster's Daily Democrat Basketball Dream Team member won the league Player of the Year award and surpassed the 1,000-point mark in her senior season. As a junior she led the Bobcats to the state quarterfinals and was named a second-team all-state basketball selection. In 2006, she led the Bobcats to an undefeated record (22-0) on their way to winning the Class I state championship.
    Lyons compiled over 1,000 points during her career at Reading High School, including a total of 436 points during her senior season. During that season she was named North Section Player of the Year and helped lead the Rockets to a Middlesex League Championship. In 2007, she was the conference's leading scorer with an average of 18.1 points per game. During that season she was selected to the Middlesex All-League team and named the Woburn Times Chronicle Player of the Year.
    Reed, who scored over 1,000 while playing at Oswego High School, was a three-time selection to both the All-League first-team and the All-CNY (Central New York) team. She was selected as the conference Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and was also a member of the all-state ninth-team.
    With a solid group of core players, increased depth and a load of young talent, the Wildcats have set themselves up not only for a successful campaign in 2009-10 but to become a top talent in the America East for many years to come.   


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