WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) dropped in a team-high 13 points, but the ninth-seeded University of New Hampshire women's basketball team fell to top-seeded University of Hartford, 68-35, in the quarterfinals of the America East Women's Basketball Championships at Chase Arena on Friday night.
With the loss the Wildcats finish their season 9-22 overall and 3-13 in America East play, while the Hawks improve to 26-3 overall and 16-0 in conference action.
Williams finished the night with six boards and two blocks. Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) tallied seven points and pulled in two rebounds. Racheal Fowler (Glassboro, N.J.) chipped in with six rebounds, four points and three steals.
Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) notched an assist in the contest, giving her 155 assists this season, tying UNH's single-season record set by Corinne Gulas during the 1983-84 campaign. Simpson's assist total not only is a career-high, but ranks first in the America East Conference this season.
The Hawks outshot the Wildcats 46.4 percent (26-of-56) to 27.3 percent (15-of-55) from the floor, holding New Hampshire to its lowest point total of the season. In addition, the Hawks outscored the ‘Cats 40 to 14 in the paint and held the advantage in rebounds 45 to 29.
The Hawks kicked off the contest with a 13-3 run that lasted nearly nine minutes, as UNH's lone field goal on the stretch came on a jumper by Williams at 17:56. Alex Hall capped off the run with a layup, giving Hartford a string of four unanswered points, pushing its lead to 13-3 with 11:16 remaining in the first frame.
Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) snapped the scoring drought when she took the ball from the top of key and slashed into the paint knocking down a runner on the ensuing possession. New Hampshire would continue to cut down Hartford's lead on the next trip up the floor, as Fowler sank a layup off a pass from Simpson, setting the score at 13-7 at 9:47.
After a change of possession, Jackie Smith came back with a 3-pointer that sparked a string of six unanswered points by the Hawks, building their lead to 12, with the score 19-7.
The Wildcats struck back with a pair of buckets, as Wells and Williams each netted a jumper to cut the score to 19-11 with 6:56 remaining in the stanza. However, the Hawks were just as quick to answer the call, as Erica Beverly and Diana Delva each dropped in a pair of layups, building Hartford's lead to its largest margin to that point, with the score 27-11 at 2:12.
Despite Hartford's string of eight unanswered points, Wells helped get New Hampshire back in the action, earning three points the old-fashioned-way, sinking a jumper and lacing the free throw that followed at 1:59. On the next trip up the floor UNH would repeat its efforts, as Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) completed a three-point play of her own after burying a layup with contact, setting the score at 27-17.
Ilicia Mathis responded with a three-point play, dropping in a layup and a free throw with 18 seconds remaining in the half. Beverly added to the late charge, sinking a layup with two seconds on the clock, giving Hartford the 32-17 advantage at the intermission.
The Hawks continued their hot pace into the second frame, stringing off eight unanswered points, as a pair of free throws by Beverly gave Hartford a 40-17 advantage. After trading baskets with one another for the next 3:55, the Hawks opened things up once again with a 10-0 run, pushing their advantage to 31 with 8:37 to play.
Fowler snapped the run with a layup, but that would be the last time the ‘Cats would score for the next 2:18, as the Hawks dropped in eight unanswered points, setting the score at 64-27.
Chrissy Hall (Northbridge, Mass.) broke things up with a 3-pointer that set off an 8-1 run by the Wildcats, cutting Hartford's lead down to 30, but remained scoreless for the final 2:19 of play.
Delva led Hartford with 18 points and eight rebounds. Beverly tallied 16 points, four rebounds and two blocks in the contest.