BUFFALO, N.Y. - Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) scored a team-high 12 points and pulled in 11 rebounds, propelling the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team to a 42-40 victory over Canisius College, Monday night at the Koessler Athletic Center.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 5-6 on the season, while the Golden Griffins fall to 5-6, marking their fourth straight loss.
The early portion of the first half featured a back-and-forth battle, with each team exchanging baskets for the first 12 minutes of the stanza, until Canisius grabbed a slight edge with a 3-pointer by Tasia Lee, putting the Griffs up 12-11 at 10:45.
Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) responded with a trifecta at 8:01, giving the Wildcats a 14-12 lead. UNH would follow the basket, holding the Golden Griffins scoreless for the next four minutes of play, until Brittane Russell converted a 3-point play at the four minute mark, putting the home team up 15-14.
Racheal Fowler (Glassboro, N.J.) helped the Wildcats get back on track, ending nearly a five minute scoring drought as she put the ball on the floor and powered her way to basket for a layup off the glass, giving UNH the 16-15 edge with 3:09 remaining.
Moments later, Canisius would strike back as Lee knocked down a jumper to regain the lead, setting the score at 17-16 with 1:40 remaining. New Hampshire closed out the half with three unanswered points, as Williams scored a layup and Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) knocked one of two free throw attempts, putting the ‘Cats up 19-17 at the intermission.
Canisius got off to a quick start in the second frame, as a 3-pointer by Lee and the second of two free throw attempts by Melissa Gardner knotted the score at 21-21 with 15:42 remaining.
Williams answered quickly with a jumper and a layup in just over a minute span, putting the ‘Cats up 25-21. However, the Griffs once again fought back to even the score, as a pair of free throws by Ashley Durham and a jumper by Lee, set the score at 25-25 with 12:40 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Wells helped kick off a 5-0 run as she drilled a 3-pointer and Williams dropped in a pair of free throws, giving New Hampshire the 30-25 edge with 11:19 remaining.
The Golden Griffins responded with a 7-2 run that lasted nearly two minutes, as Lee capped off the scoring stretch with a layup at 9:15. The Wildcats came back strong, scoring five unanswered points, as Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) finished off the run, stealing the ball under the basket and putting up a quick turnaround layup, giving UNH its largest lead of the game, with a 37-32 lead with 7:43 remaining.
The Golden Griffins came back posting a 6-0 run, as Russell got things started finding the bottom of the net with a layup at 6:44. Canisius would polish off the stretch with layups from Ellie Radke and Allison Braun on ensuing possessions, giving the home team its first lead of the half, pushing ahead 38-37.
Following the run, Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) layed the ball in to end the stretch and reclaim the lead with score 39-38 with 4:38 remaining.
For nearly the next four minutes of the action neither team could find the bottom of nets, until Russell hit Lee with a pass down court that set up a fast break layup with 43 seconds remaining, giving the home team a 40-39 advantage.
Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) would help answer the call on the next trip down the floor, as she found a wide open McDonald under the basket for a layup, taking the lead for good, with the score 41-40.
Williams made the final stop after the change of possession, intercepting a pass with ten seconds remaining to preserve the win for New Hampshire. Beliveau would knock down a free throw attempt with seven seconds remaining finalizing the score at 42-40.
The Wildcats shot 34 percent for the game, while forcing Canisius to shoot just 26.7 percent from the floor. Canisius' shooting clip is the lowest percentage the Wildcats have allowed as a defense this season.
McDonald tallied eight points, four rebounds, an assist and a block on the night. Beliveau added seven points, four boards and two steals.
As for Canisius, Russell scored 13 points, tallied four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Lee led the Golden Griffins with 14 points and also chipped in with three rebounds and three steals.
The Wildcats return to action on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. when they take on Syracuse University at Manley Field House.