Women's Basketball: Belanger's productive night not enough
Sophomore guard Elizabeth Belanger's 20 points, three blocks and two steals weren't enough to overcome the University of Albany on Wednesday, as the Great Danes defeated the Wildcats 60-47. New Hampshire never led, despite the game being closer than the first matchup, an 88-47 triumph for Albany on Jan. 23.
The Wildcats kept it close in the first half, playing stingy defense, particularly in the last 10 minutes. While Albany led by as much as 11, New Hampshire closed the Great Danes lead to two by the end of the half.
Down 21-10 with 9:27 to go in the first half, Belanger hit two from the charity stripe to cut the Great Danes lead to nine. After an Albany turnover, Sarah Frankenberger missed a three but Anderson grabbed the offensive board and Belanger laid it in. Albany's Jessica Fequiere would match the layup, putting Albany up 23-14 with 7:29 to go.
After almost two minutes, Kaylee Kilpatrick attacked the basket for a bucket, shortly followed by another Belanger layup to cut Albany's lead to five. UNH bigs Kilpatrick and Corinne Coia each added layups to make it 23-22, Albany. The Great Danes responded, however, and the half ended with New Hampshire trailing 26-24.
"I thought we played well on defense at times," head coach Maureen Magarity said. "It wasn't perfect but we were competitive."
Albany came out of halftime firing, scoring five points in the first 43 seconds off a three-pointer from Erin Coughlin and a layup from Tammy Phillip. The Wildcats kept it close until the Great Danes went on a 9-0 run in the middle of second half to essentially put the game away.
"We're not happy with losing but there are definitely positives to take away from the game," Coia said. "We didn't shoot well, but we know we can play with them. The first game, we came out and played tentative, a little nervous."
Gaston got two early fouls, forcing her to sit the majority of the first half. In her place, Frankenberger played all 20 minutes, recording two points and two rebounds. Hogan also dealt with foul trouble early in the second half, forcing the Wildcats to go deeper into their bench.
"I mean we only have nine players so we don't have a deep bench," Magarity said. "So with Ariel and Kelsey both missing time, we had to turn to our bench. I thought Kristen Anderson played great in the first half, really providing a spark."
"We don't have a deep team, but I thought the girls that came in gave us what they had and were competitive," Belanger said. "It's tough when Ariel misses so much of the first half and then Kelsey misses some of the second."
Both teams were sloppy with the ball, combining for 38 turnovers for the game. The Wildcats actually scored 22 of their points off turnovers compared to Albany's 14. The referees also called an eye-popping 37 fouls for both teams, with New Hampshire receiving 21 of them.
"Fouls are part of the game, but it was a little frustrating," Coia said.
"Both teams dealt with fouls," Magarity said. "Craig had four of them so they were dealing with it just as much as we were."
The star of the night was Elizabeth Belanger, who redeemed herself from a poor performance last month at Albany. On that night, Belanger committed seven turnovers and only went one-of-six from the court.
"I didn't play with confidence that night and I knew I needed to step up for my team tonight," Belanger said. "I'm happy that I was able to play better but obviously, as a team, you're upset that you couldn't come away with the win. There are some positives to take away but a loss is a loss."
"Elizabeth just wasn't herself [in the previous game], and we hadn't talked about it but I'm sure she wanted to be better tonight and she definitely was," Magarity said. "She kept us in the game."
The Wildcats fall to 12-3 in conference play, and 18-10 overall. New Hampshire has one last home game, which will serve as senior night, on Saturday against Maine. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.
Follow Arjuna Ramgopal on Twitter @ArjunaRamgopal
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