DURHAM, N.H. – Senior forward Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine) recorded 16 points and eight rebounds on Senior Night for the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team, but the University at Albany rallied to a 55-46 victory Wednesday night at Lundholm Gym.
UNH, which led 30-18 at halftime on the strength of 40.7% shooting from the floor while holding Albany to 29.2%, is now 10-17 overall and 5-10 in America East. UA, which outscored the Wildcats 37-16 in the second half with a .520 field goal percentage in comparison to New Hampshire's .241, won its 16th consecutive game to improve to 24-3 overall and 15-0 in America East.
Frame, who scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the first half, was named UNH's America East Player of the Game. Senior guard Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) made three 3-pointers and netted 11 points to climb past Marcie Lane into No. 20 on UNH's career points leaderboard; Reed has 914 career points, including 170 career 3-pointers; Lane finished with 911 points.
Megan Smith, UA's America East Player of the Game, scored a game-high 20 points on the strength of 9 of 14 shooting from the floor in 26 minutes off the bench. Shereesha Richards recorded 10 points and nine rebounds, which tied for the game high with teammate Ebone Henry.
Both teams struggled offensively the opening five minutes of the game with Albany leading 4-3. UNH made 1 of 6 field goal attempts to that point, but heated up and hit 9 of the next 18 from the floor to build a double-digit lead.
Reed ignited the run with consecutive 3-pointers from the top of the key at 14:48 and 14:18 to give the Wildcats a 9-4 lead. Craig's layup at 12:25 cut UA's deficit to three points, but Frame outscored the Great Danes 7-2 the next 2 minutes, 30 seconds to extend UNH's advantage to 16-8 at 9:55.
Richards' layup lifted Albany within six points, but Gaston responded with a layup one minute later and then hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the 'Cats a 21-10 lead at 7:28.
Lindsey Lowrie's 3-pointer was answered by Reed to advance the score to 24-13. After one free throw by Craig, Hogan hit a jumper at 4:14 and Frame made 1 of 2 free throws at 3:13 to give UNH its largest lead of the game of 13 points, 27-14. Gaston's layup at 1:21 closed the first-half scoring to give the Wildcats a 30-18 lead.
The Great Danes, fueled by consecutive layups by Richards, opened the second half on an 8-0 run to close within 30-26 at 17:24. UNH responded with back-to-back field goals from Gaston and Frame, then Kendall Martenet (Waukesha, Wis.) hit a 10-foot jumper in the paint to reestablish a double-digit lead of 36-26 at 13:26.
Albany went on an 18-0 run the next eight minutes to grab a 44-36 lead with 4:35 remaining. Craig's third field goal during the spurt lifted the visitors within 36-35 at 8:49, then Henry hit a pair of foul shots at 8:09 to put the Great Danes in front, 37-36; they had not led since 4-3 in the opening minutes of the game.
Following a defensive stop for UA, Craig made another layup and then a Julie Forster putback extended the advantage to 41-36 at 6:00. Craig scored three more points on a foul shot and layup to give Albany an eight-point lead before Frame drilled two free throws to end the run and trim the deficit to 44-38 at 4:33.
Hogan's jumper on the left wing lifted the 'Cats within four points at 3:20, but they would get no closer the rest of the way. Forster responded with a layup, then neither team scored again until she made 1 of 2 foul shots with 53 seconds remaining to make it 47-40.
Following a missed 3-pointer by Hogan, UA's Sarah Royals hit one free throw. UNH then committed a turnover and Lowrie hit both shots from the foul line to give Albany a 50-40 lead with 37 seconds on the clock.
Reed drove the left wing for a layup, but then Royals made both free throws to reestablish a 10-point advantage of 52-42 with 25 seconds to play. A putback by Jilliane Friel (Durham, N.H.) lifted the Wildcats within 52-44, but Richards' three-point play gave the Great Danes their largest lead, 55-44, with 10 seconds remaining.
The quartet of Frame, Reed, Friel and Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) were honored on Senior Night prior to opening tipoff.
New Hampshire closes the regular season March 2 (12 p.m.) at the University of Maine. The 2013 America East tournament begins March 8 at Albany's SEFCU Arena.