ORONO, Maine - Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) scored a team-high 15 points, but the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team dropped a 69-61 decision to the University of Maine on Tuesday night at Alfond Arena.
With the loss the Wildcats fall to 8-18 overall and 3-10 in America East play, while the Black Bears improve to 8-18 and 4-10 in conference action.
McDonald was named the America East Player of the Game for New Hampshire, rounding out the evening with three rounds, one block and one steal. Kristin Baker took home Player of the Game honors for Maine, registering a game-high 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Brittany Williams capped off a 7-4 Maine run knocking down a free throw, pushing its lead to 62-53 with 3:55 to play. UNH would strike back with a pair of 3-pointers by Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) and Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.), cutting the lead to four with 1:18 to play.
Despite the comeback, the Wildcats wouldn't notch a field goal for the remainder of the contest, as Beliveau provided the only source of offense, sinking a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining. Meanwhile, Maine knocked down 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute, holding onto the victory and putting New Hampshire away for good.
The Wildcats kicked off the contest scoring the game's first two baskets, as McDonald buried a layup and a jumper on back-to-back possessions to give the visitors the early 4-0 lead with 17:57 remaining in the first stanza.
Maine was quick to respond, answering back with five unanswered points, as Katia Bratishko buried a layup and Baker sank a trifecta to claim a 5-4 lead over UNH at 17:04. Moments later, Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) would take back the lead for New Hampshire, draining a jumper to give the Wildcats a 6-5 advantage.
For UNH, the lead wouldn't last long as Maine pieced together a 12-5 run that lasted nearly six minutes, jumping ahead with a 17-11 advantage at 10:30. Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) helped the ‘Cats get back on track as she snapped the scoring stretch with layup that sparked a 7-2 run, cutting the lead down to one with 7:40 remaining in the first frame.
The Black Bears once again responded stringing together a 6-2 run, but Diamon Beckford (Philadelphia, Pa.) quickly answered back for the ‘Cats, burying a layup and a 3-pointer on back-to-back trips up the floor, knotting the score at 25-25 with 5:33 remaining in the first half.
Brittany Williams broke the tie with a jumper about a minute later, setting off a 10-2 run by the home team that lasted 2:24. However, UNH would finish the frame strong as Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) drained a 3-pointer and Wells banked in a layup in the closing moments of the half to set the score at 37-32 in favor of the home team at the intermission.
The ‘Cats would continue their hot shooting into the second frame, kicking off the stanza with a 7-1 run, claiming their first lead in 19:22. After holding the Black Bears without a field goal for the first 3:55 of the second half, Baker finally ended the drought sinking a jumper to take back the lead, setting the score at 40-39 with 16:05 remaining.
Following Baker's basket, Maine put together a 12-3 run, pushing ahead with its largest lead of the contest, holding a 52-42 advantage with 11:11 remaining. At the midway point, New Hampshire would snap the run as Chrissy Hall (Northbridge, Mass.) sank a 3-pointer from the corner, igniting a 7-3 run by the ‘Cats to slice the score to 55-49 in favor of the home team at 8:30.
Baker would cut down hopes of a comeback, as she sank a 3-pointer to spark a 7-4 run by the Black Bears that lasted just over four minutes, giving the home team a 62-53 lead with 3:55 to play.
Wells finished the night with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. Candace Williams added nine points, eight rebounds and three steals. Simpson chipped in with eight assists, seven points, two rebounds and two steals.
For Maine, Wheeler registered 12 points and eight rebounds. Brittany Williams tallied 10 points, three boards and two assists.
The Wildcats return to action on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. when they play host to Albany at Lundholm Gymnasium.