Kilpatrick Scores Career-High 19 Points; Women's Basketball Edged 63-56 at Hartford

WEST HARTFORD, Conn.Kaylee Kilpatrick (Saint John, New Brunswick) scored a career-high 19 points, but the late comeback effort by the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team fell short in Wednesday night's 63-56 America East conference loss to the University of Hartford at Chase Family Arena.

UNH, which was coming off a two-point loss to Boston University on Jan. 19, is now 6-12 overall and 1-5 in America East. Hartford improved to 13-7, 4-3.

Kilpatrick was named UNH's America East Player of the game as she scored her career-high 19 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the floor and 1-for-1 from the foul line. She also matched her personal bests in both blocks (three) and steals (two) while also recording three rebounds and two assists.

Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine) tallied 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and four assists, which equaled her personal best. Elizabeth Belanger (Acton, Mass.) finished with eight points, six rebounds and three assists. Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) recorded seven points and nine rebounds.

Hartford was led by Nikkia Smith (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Amber Bepko (17 points).

The Hawks took their largest lead of the game, 13 points (50-37) at 7:49 of the second half and led 54-43 with five minutes remaining when UNH began its comeback.

Frame scored on the right blocks off a feed from Kilpatrick at 3:34, then Reed was fouled at the other end of the floor after grabbing a defensive rebound and hit both ends of the 1-and-1 to lift the 'Cats within 54-47 at 3:03. Kilpatrick then blocked two shots to highlight UNH's defensive stop and her three-point play trimmed the deficit to 54-50 with 2:20 on the clock.

After another Wildcats' defensive stop, Kilpatrick swung the ball from the paint to Frame at the left elbow and she drilled the jump shot to lift the Wildcats within 54-52 at 1:29. Bepko answered with a three-point play to extend Hartford's advantage to five points with 1:11 remaining.

Ariel Gaston (Toledo, Ohio) set up a Kilpatrick field goal to pull New Hampshire within 57-54 with 58 seconds to play. UNH immediately called time out, and then Bepko hit two foul shots four seconds later to reestablish a five-point lead.

Kilpatrick hit a short jumper in the paint to make it 59-56 with 39 seconds on the clock. Frame stole the ball on the ensuing Hawks' possession and UNH called its last timeout at 27 seconds. Gaston's attempted lob pass to Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) cutting back door was intercepted by Smith in the paint, and one second later Daphne Elliott hit two free throws to extend the lead to 61-56 with 17 seconds remaining. Reed's 3-pointer hit off the rim with six seconds to play and Smith made two foul shots to close the scoring.

In the first half, Kilpatrick scored UNH's initial six points on a jumper from both the left and right elbow and a layup on the right blocks to give the Wildcats a 6-4 lead at 16:18. Reed made a layup off Belanger's inbounds pass to extend the advantage to 8-4 less than a minute later.

Reed's 3-pointer from the top of the key gave New Hampshire its largest first-half lead of five points, 13-8, at 14:05. Hartford responded with a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 15-13, at 11:03.

Kilpatrick kissed a shot off the glass from the right post to level the score at 10:42 and then Frame followed her own miss to put the 'Cats back in front, 17-15, at 9:46.

The Hawks responded with four consecutive points to take a 19-17 lead. After a Stephanie Spoto (Pittsford, N.Y.) free throw cut the deficit to one point, Belanger drilled a 3-pointer from the top-right wing to give UNH a 21-19 advantage at 6:55.

The streak of four-point surges continued as Hartford regained the lead, 23-21, and two minutes later a Bepko 3-pointer put the home team in front 26-22 at 2:50. Kilpatrick hit a 15-foot straightaway jumper and Belanger converted a pass from Frame into a layup on the left blocks to even the score at 26 with 1:32 remaining.

Hartford surged back in front by four points in the final minute before Wells drove the right baseline and beat the buzzer with a layup to pull the 'Cats within 30-28.

The Hawks opened the second half on a 11-4 run to build at 41-32 lead at 11:28. Belanger's 3-pointer on the next possession trimmed the deficit to six points, but the home team responded with a 9-2 spurt to open up its 50-37 lead.

New Hampshire returns to action Jan. 26 (4:30 p.m.) at Binghamton University. The game, which will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable, is the first of the UNH vs. Binghamton basketball doubleheader at the Events Center. The Wildcats' next home game is Jan. 29 (7 p.m.) against the University of Maine.

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