DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire women's basketball team outscored the University of Rhode Island 18-4 in the third and final overtime period, outlasting the Rams, 88-74, in a see-saw battle on New Year's Day afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium. Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) led New Hampshire, notching her third double-double of the season, scoring a career-high 25 points and pulling down 10 rebounds to lead UNH to the win (3-9).
Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.), who was named the America East Player of the Game, registered her second straight double-double, establishing a career high with 22 points and snaring 12 boards in the program's first-ever triple-overtime game. The mark comes as her third double-double of the season and the fifth of her career. She also notched a season-best five blocks, marking the fourth straight game she has registered multiple blocks.
Rhode Island (5-8) was led by Megan Shoniker's 29 points, but the Rams dropped their fourth straight game, which includes a double-overtime defeat (Dec. 8), a single-overtime setback (Dec. 19) and Saturday's triple-overtime loss in Durham, where the Wildcats improve to 3-1 this season.
UNH got out of the gates slowly, missing its first seven shots from the floor, which allowed Rhode Island to seize an early 7-0 advantage just 2:30 into the contest. Following a timeout, the Wildcats responded with a 9-0 run to take a 9-7 lead. McDonald buried a pair of free throws and knocked down a three-point field goal during the spurt, while Beliveau added four points.
The Rams again built the lead to seven points at 23-16 with about seven minutes remaining in the half, only to see the 'Cats answer right back. Reed led the way, hitting a runner, followed with a bank shot and a three-pointer from the top of the key to spearhead a 10-2 run, putting UNH in front, 26-25, with under 1:30 to play in the first half. The Wildcats would get one more bucket, a Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) reverse lay-in as the shot clock was expiring, to help the 'Cats take a 28-27 advantage into the intermission.
McDonald erupted for seven points during a 10-2 run in the opening minutes of the second half, allowing UNH to lay claim to a 38-29 lead with 15:36 left in the contest. The lead reached 10 points at 41-31, courtesy of a Reed three-pointer with just under 15 minutes to go before URI began its rally. The combination of Shoniker and Sherrie Session (11 points, seven rebounds) sparked a 9-1 Rams' run, cutting the Wildcats' lead to 42-40 with 11:22 remaining. Rhode Island would knot the score, 49-49, when Session hit a pair of foul shots with 7:00 remaining.
Hogan banged in a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Reed slashed to the basket and banked in a layup from the left side on a feed from Hogan to help UNH take another six-point lead, 57-51, with two minutes remaining. Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) added to the run, driving to the paint with the shot clock winding down and sank a 10-foot jumper from the left side at 1:20, but the Wildcats were held without a field-goal the rest of regulation, which ended at 60-60.
The first overtime was a defensive struggle, as each team managed only three points. Beliveau hit one foul shot, and Wells hit a pair from the charity stripe.
URI scored the first six points of the second overtime, taking a 69-63 lead on a hoop from Session and two baskets by Shoniker. The pendulum swung back in favor of the Wildcats when Wells and Hogan both knocked down a pair of clutch free throws, and Reed buried a wide open three-pointer from the left wing on a feed from Beliveau with 1:04 left in the second overtime to knot the score at 70-70.
The two teams exchanged baskets for the first few minutes of the third overtime, until Wells slashed to the paint and found a wide open Reed at the top of the key for a 3-pointer that extended UNH's lead to six, 78-72, with 1:40 remaining to put the nail in the coffin. Beliveau helped maintain the lead hitting seven of eight free throws in the third overtime, paving the way for a dramatic New Hampshire triumph.
The Wildcats open their America East conference schedule on the road Tuesday, Jan. 4, with a 7 p.m. matchup versus the University at Albany. UNH next plays at Lundholm Gym on Thursday, Jan. 6, with a 7 p.m. conference battle against Boston University. For more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com.