January 5, 2012

Women's Basketball Runs Past Hartford, 64-45

 DURHAM, N.H. – Senior Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) poured in 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds, both game highs, and the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team led wire-to-wire in a 64-45 triumph over the University of Hartford at Lundholm Gymnasium on Thursday night.

With the win, the Wildcats improve to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in America East play, also snapping an 18-game losing streak to the reigning conference champions, while Hartford dips to 8-6 on the season and 0-2 in the league.

Beliveau, the America East Player of the Game for UNH, shot 9-of-14 from the floor and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, finishing with three assists and two steals. Junior Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine) posted 15 points along with seven boards and four assists. Sophomore Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) rounded out the double-figure scorers with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.

As a team, the Wildcats shot 44.4 percent (24-54) from the floor and 57.1 percent (8-14) from long range.

Nikkia Smith earned Player of the Game honors for Hartford as she finished with a team-high 10 points and five rebounds.

New Hampshire raced out to an early 13-4 lead to open the contest, first going inside to Frame for lay-ups and short jumpers before junior Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) stepped back and drained a 3-pointer to cap off the run at the 13:24 mark.

The teams then swapped baskets before Hartford pulled within seven, 21-14, on a jumper by Alex Hall with 8:22 left in the opening stanza. UNH answered right back on the next possession with a 3-pointer by Beliveau, paving the way for an eventual 14-point advantage as Reed drilled another trey for the 32-18 lead with 3:51 remaining.  

Hartford finished out the first half with an 8-2 stretch as the Wildcats held a 34-26 advantage at intermission. Beliveau led the way with 12 points in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range.

Hartford opened the second half with a driving lay-up by Amber Bepko to pull within six, but the Wildcats responded with a 9-2 run as Hogan hit a 3-pointer to push the home side on top, 43-30, at the 15:08 mark.

After the teams swapped a series of baskets and with UNH still on top by 13, the Hawks netted back-to-back scores to cut the Wildcat lead to single digits, 49-40, midway through the second half. The Wildcats bounced back once again, this time with stingy defense, holding the visitors scoreless over the next 3:28 for the 52-40 advantage with just under seven minutes left to play.

Hartford managed to pull within nine on a 3-pointer by Shanise Bultron, but the Wildcats finished the game on a 9-2 run over the final 6:44 of action to preserve the victory.

The Wildcats return to action on Wednesday, Jan. 11 when they welcome Albany to Lundholm Gymnasium for a 7 p.m. matchup. For tickets, and more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.

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