Coia Scores 21 to Power Women's Basketball Past Vermont, 85-79, in AE Quarterfinal

ALBANY, N.Y.  ­– Corinne Coia (North Smithfield, R.I.) scored 21 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds to power the third-seeded University of New Hampshire women's basketball team to a come-from-behind 85-79 win over the sixth-seeded University of Vermont in Friday afternoon's America East quarterfinal game at SEFCU Arena.

UNH, which earned a semifinal matchup against No. 2 seed Stony Brook, set a season high for points while improving to 19-11 on the season. UVM, which had been 6-0 in all-time postseason games against New Hampshire, saw its season end with a mark of 7-23.

New Hampshire makes its second-straight appearance in the semifinals. The 85 points by the Wildcats is the most scored in an America East tournament game since 2008 (Boston University, 88). In addition, the 52 second half points by UNH is a season-high and fourth-most scored in a half in tournament history. The game featured 14 lead changes and six times the match was tied.

"I'm thrilled we found a way to pull that game out," said head coach Maureen Magarity. "I really felt that Vermont came prepared today, their game plan was great. We did a much better job of taking care of the ball and really getting the most out of our possessions in the second half. We slowed down, we read the defense, moved the ball well and that's credit to the girls. It was as simple as that."   

The Wildcats registered four players in double-digit scoring. Behind Coia's team-high 21 points and career high four blocks, Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) notched 18 points. Elizabeth Belanger (Acton, Mass.) recorded 16 points and six rebounds. Ariel Gaston (Toledo, Ohio) tallied 10 points, three assists and three steals.

Jordan Eisler paced Vermont's offense with a game-high 22 points. Forwards Niki Taylor and Kayla Burchill each logged 18 points and four rebounds.

UNH shot 28 of 53 from the floor and 5 of 10 from 3-point range to register a .528 field goal percentage. UVM was 30 of 67 shooting and 4 of 20 from beyond the arc to post a .448 clip.

New Hampshire opened the game with a 7-3 run as Coia netted the first two baskets followed by a 3-pointer from Hogan. Vermont battled back to slash UNH's lead down to one at 11-10, getting contributions from Burchill and Kylie Butler. The Wildcats and Catamounts traded points to up the score to 15-14 with 10:10 to go in the first half.

UNH stretched its lead out to seven with a 6-0 run and holding a 21-14 edge over Vermont with 6:36 left in the opening stanza. However, UVM quickly erased the Wildcat lead, scoring 11 consecutive points to capture a 25-21 edge, ignited by an Eisler trey. 

The Wildcats kept their deficit to a minimum as the score rose up to 33-31 with 2:40 remaining on the clock.  In spite of that, the Catamounts closed out the first half netting 5 of 6 free throws to lead, 38-33. 

New Hampshire erased the five-point deficit in the second half as part of an 11-6 run to level the score at 44, elapsing over 3 minutes, six seconds. Each side continued to trade points, raising the score to 51 all with 12:58 left in regulation.  

The match remained closely contested as Vermont owned a 59-58 edge with 9:06 remaining in the second half. Hogan drained a pair of shots from the charity stripe to give the Wildcats a 60-59 lead. The free throws generated a 12-3 run by UNH, highlighted by 3-balls from Hogan and Gaston. Vermont countered the run with baskets from the forward tandem of Taylor and Burchill as the Catamounts trailed 73-67 with 2:38 to go in the second stanza.

UNH relied on its free throw ability in the waning moments of the game. Collectively, the Wildcats tallied 10 of 13 (.769) attempts from the charity stripe in the final 2:38 of play. New Hampshire was able to fend off the Catamount surge in the final minutes and secure the 85-79 win.

The Wildcats and Seawolves will square off Sunday, March 9 (Time TBA) at SEFCU Arena on the campus of the University at Albany. The match will be streamd live on ESPN3.

"It's always a great matchup when we play Stony Brook," said Hogan. "I know they have a chip on their shoulder from the last semifinal game, but we also have a chip on our shoulder from losing to them in the last conference game. Last time we played them at their court in the conference so it's going to be a battle. Two great teams, so there will be a great battle and a great game to watch." 

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