JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Despite a neck and neck battle in the first half of play, the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team couldn't catch fire in the second stanza, falling to St. Peter's College, 66-47, Saturday afternoon at the Yanitelli Center.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Peahens, moving them to 2-3 on the season, while the Wildcats fall to 3-4.
Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) and Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) led the Wildcats with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
The first five minutes of the action opened with both teams trading blows, as a basket by Denise Beliveau at 10:55, knotted the action at 7-7 with 15:55 remaining. Following the stretch, the two squads would continue to trade baskets, until UNH pulled ahead with its largest lead of the game on a basket by Williams at 11:16 set the score at 17-14.
The two squads battled back and forth for the next six minutes of play, in a stretch that featured three ties and six lead changes. However, the Peahens would catch fire late in the stanza, as a pair of free throws by Jessica Coles at 5:03 sparked a 14-3 run to close out the half, giving the home team a 37-27 advantage at the intermission.
St. Peter's picked up right where it left off in the second half, drawing first blood as Charlene Riddick buried a basket at 19:17, to give the Peahens their largest lead to that point with a 12-point advantage over the ‘Cats.
Despite the hot streak by St. Peter's, Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) would give New Hampshire some offensive fire power, scoring two baskets in a one minute span to cut the deficit back down to 10, with the score 41-31 at 18:31. The Wildcats would continue to chip away at the lead on the ensuing possession, as Williams knocked down a pair of free throws from the charity stripe, making the score 41-33, in favor of the home team.
The Peahens responded stringing off a 14-2 run that lasted nearly seven minutes, building their largest lead of the contest, with a 55-35 advantage at 10:31. Natasha Morris totaled nine points on the run, netting three points the old fashioned way and draining a pair of 3-pointers.
Beliveau snapped the scoring stretch, knocking down three free throws in a one-minute span, to kick off a 9-4 New Hampshire run. Williams capped off the stretch with a 3-pointer and a jumper on back-to-back possessions, cutting the Peahens' lead down to 15, setting the score at 59-44 with 4:53 remaining.
For New Hampshire, the run was too little too late, as St. Peter's would once again pick up the pieces with five unanswered points, pushing its lead back up to 20, while holding UNH to just three points in the final four minutes of play to preserve the win.
Williams was named the America East Player of the Game for the Wildcats, pouring in 15 points, while tallying eight rebounds and two steals. Williams is currently on pace to become just the tenth Wildcat in program history to score over 1,000 points and compile over 500 rebounds in a career. She currently ranks 13th in scoring with 967 points and 15th in rebounds with 531.
In addition to Beliveau's 12 points, she also racked up eight boards and tallied three steals in the contest. McDonald chipped in with eight points, a season-high three blocks and two assists.
As for the Peahens, Morris led the way with 16 points, while tallying five rebounds, five steals and three assists. Riddick also added 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
The Wildcats return to action on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m., when they play host to Central Connecticut State at Lundholm Gymnasium.