Women's Basketball: Wildcats can't overcome Stony Brook offense
Despite going into the America East tournament riding a two game losing streak, the UNH women's basketball team was determined to win the program's first ever America East championship. While the Wildcats defeated Vermont on Friday, March 7, the team fell to Stony Brook, 79-59, on Sunday, March 9.
"It was a tough game for us," UNH head coach Maureen Magarity said. "We didn't shoot the ball well, it wasn't our day. Credit to Stony Brook, they came out sharp and shot the ball very well. It was our game plan to pack it in the middle and to force them to shoot some 3s. They came out shooting the ball very well and they did a nice job of maintaining the lead."
The Wildcats started the game on a 7-2 run before Stony Brook went on a 13-0 run, including two 3s from senior Chikilra Goodman, to jump out to a 15-7 lead. The Seawolves led the rest of the half, but New Hampshire cut the deficit to 36-30 with a 7-2 run over the final four minutes.
The Seawolves easily outrebounded the Wildcats in the first half, getting 13 offensive boards and 25 total boards compared to New Hampshire's nine. Elizabeth Belanger, Kaylee Kilpatrick, and Kelsey Hogan combined for 22 of New Hampshire's 30 points in the half.
"They are a very aggressively-defensive team; they really get out and pressure you," Hogan said. "All around, Stony Brook came out to play today and they are a great team."
While Belanger started the half off with a bucket to cut the Seawolves lead to four, Stony Brook's defense clamped down on New Hampshire, allowing nine points over the first 13 minutes of the half.
New Hampshire wasn't able to drive, recording only 20 points in the paint and registering its first free throws 36 minutes into the game. The team finished with four total free throws. UNH was outrebounded 48-25.
"They were aggressive as usual," Belanger said. "We were attacking first half which was going really well for us, but we settled for jump shots in the second half. We did not get to the line that much which really hurt us. Stony Brook came to play and I give them credit."
For UNH, it was the younger players that shined. Belanger finished the game with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists over 37 minutes of play. Freshman Kristen Anderson provided a spark off the bench, adding 11 points (3-4 from the 3-point line), three assists and two steals over 18 minutes of play.
"Our future as a team does look bright, we have one senior," Magarity said. "It will be a big hole to try and fill. We have some great scorers. Elizabeth had a breakout year this year as a scorer. We have signed five incoming freshman for next year, which will definitely help us."
Two days before during the America East quarterfinals, New Hampshire scored 52 point in the second half to pull out an 85-79 victory over Vermont. The win was the first ever victory for the Wildcats over the Catamounts in America East tournament play.
"I'm thrilled we found a way to pull that game out," Magarity said. "A tremendous amount of credit to Vermont. I really felt that they came prepared today; their game plan was great."
Down by five at halftime, the Wildcats went on an 11-5 run over the first 3:06 to tie the game up at 44. After some back and forth play, Hogan got fouled and made both attempts from the charity stripe to give UNH a 60-59 lead with 8:57 to go. New Hampshire never trailed again.
"Our leader, captain pulled through at the end of the game like she always does, Kelsey, and survived an advance like this today," Magarity said.
Up by three, Hogan nailed the 3 with 6:41 left to play. 38 seconds later, Ariel Gaston hit a 3-pointer, her first field goal of the game, to give New Hampshire an eight point lead. UVM never got within three.
"I was just full of emotion after hitting that 3," Hogan said. "It kind of got everything rolling again. We needed something like that and I knew we needed something like that in that moment."
"I think we did a much better job [in the second half] of taking care of the ball and really getting the most out of our possessions," Magarity said.
Gaston finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block over 39 minutes of play. Hogan scored 18 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
Forward Corinne Coia was the Wildcats leading scorer, notching 21 points on 7-9 shooting and adding eight rebounds, three assists and four blocks, a career high.
"We got the ball inside out a lot, we slowed down, we read the defense, we moved the ball well, and that's credit to the girls," Magarity said. "It was as simple as that. All I had to say was slow down and they made the adjustment."
"We picked up our defense from the first half, and I think throughout the entire season that is what we pride ourselves on, being a defensively tough team," Gaston said. "Once our defense started clicking that's what really leads to our offense, and from that point we were just rolling."
The Wildcats started off the first half well, forcing the Catamounts to shoot 3s while clogging up the inside game. Towards the end of the first half, however, Vermont was able to attack in the paint, going up by five at halftime. 20 of UVM's 38 first-half points were scored in the paint.
The Catamounts rebounded well in the half, recording eight offensive boards compared to the Wildcats one. Vermont finished the half off by making four of their last five field goals. Senior Kelsey Hogan was limited to eight minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. New Hampshire had 11 fouls, with Hogan accounting for three of them.
"You look up at the scoreboard and see Kelsey on the bench, Elizabeth is on the bench, Ariel is in foul trouble," Magarity said. "That's kind of been our, I don't want to say motto all year, but we're such a small team that we have to rely on everybody. Everybody is capable of having a big night with us, one through nine to be honest with you. Most teams would probably panic when their top two scorers are on the bench but it's a normal day for us knowing just knowing that someone else can step up."
The victory over Vermont ended up being Hogan's last victory with New Hampshire. A captain for four years, it's clear that she will be missed.
"Overall, I am so proud of this team and so proud of Kelsey and everything she has accomplished and how she has helped the program," Magarity said. "Kelsey Hogan is a coach's dream and I was lucky enough to get to coach her for four years. You do not hear of too many sixth year seniors. Kelsey has given her heart and soul to this program and university. I am so blessed to have had the chance to coach her. Kelsey has bigger and better things ahead of her; she is going to make a great coach someday."
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