BURLINGTON, Vt. - Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) tallied career highs in both points (19) and rebounds (10), but the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team fell to the University of Vermont, 78-64, at Patrick Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon.

The win improves the Catamounts to 17-5 overall and 7-2 in America East play, while the Wildcats drop to 7-15 overall and 2-7 in conference action.

In addition to setting career highs in points and rebounds, McDonald took home America East Player of the Game honors for New Hampshire, finishing with two blocks and an assist. For Vermont, May Kotsopoulos was named Player of the Game, registering 26 points, three boards and two assists.

New Hampshire drew first blood in the contest, as Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) got things started burying a layup at 19:37, kicking off a 16-9 run that lasted just under 10 minutes. The Wildcats finished off the run with a 7-2 scoring stretch, as Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) dropped in a pair of layups and McDonald sank a layup and free throw, pushing the visitors ahead by seven.

After the change of possession, Courtnay Pilypaitis responded laying the ball in on the other end, cutting UNH's lead to five, sparking a 9-1 run by the home team, giving UVM its first lead of the contest, holding an 18-17 advantage with 6:50 remaining in the first stanza.

Pilypaitis finished off the stretch lacing a jumper, but UNH would respond on the ensuing possession, as Williams nailed a pair of free throws, reclaiming the lead with a 19-18 advantage at 6:29.

Moments later, Kotsopoulos added a 3-pointer and a jumper to give the home team their largest lead to that point, setting the score at 23-19 with 3:17 remaining in the first frame. New Hampshire would quickly answer back, as Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) drilled a trifecta and Williams buried a layup on back-to-back possessions to give the visitors the 24-23 lead.

The Catamounts retaliated with five unanswered points of their own, as Kotsopoulos netted a 3-pointer and Tonya Young sank a jumper to push UVM's lead to four at 1:42. UNH finished the stanza off on a strong note, as McDonald banked in a layup and Williams buried a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining to set the score at 30-29, in favor of the home team at the intermission.

New Hampshire was first to strike again in the second frame, as McDonald nailed the first of two free throw attempts, knotting the score even at 30-30. UVM came back with seven unanswered points, as Kotsopoulos tallied every basket on the run, pushing the Catamounts to a 37-30 lead at 16:30.

The two squads would trade baskets with one another for just over three minutes, until the Wildcats started to catch fire, stringing together a 7-4 run capped off with a Chrissy Hall (Northbridge, Mass.) 3-pointer that cut Vermont's lead down to five, with the score 46-41.

However, hopes of catching the Catamounts were short lived, as the home team pieced together a 23-8 run that lasted 5:20, giving UVM its largest lead of the afternoon, holding a 69-49 advantage with 6:21 to play.

The Wildcats would rebuttal sinking seven unanswered points, as Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) iced the run with a 3-pointer, dropping Vermont's lead down to 13 points, but that was as close to the lead as they would come, with the Catamounts holding on for the rest of regulation.

Williams finished with 17 points, six rebounds and two steals. Simpson chipped in with 12 points, six assists and two steals. Wells added eight points, two boards and two assists.

Pilypaitis registered18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Young finished with 14 points, seven boards and two blocks.

The Wildcats return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. when they host Stony Brook at Lundholm Gymnasium.


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