DURHAM, N.H. - In a defensive struggle that featured several mistakes from both teams, the New Hampshire Wildcats used their advantage in rebounding and free throws to defeat the UMBC Retrievers, 56-51, Thursday evening in America East women's basketball action at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 9-0 lead five minutes into the game and went up by as much as 14 points in the first half. However, UNH committed 15 turnovers in the first half, allowing the Retrievers to get within nine points at 27-18 going into the locker room at halftime.
UNH got off to another quick start at the beginning of the second half, scoring the first seven points to go up 34-18 with 17:28 left in the second half. UMBC (8-18, 3-14 America East) went on a 15-0 run over the next four minutes to cut the Wildcat lead to one, and kept up the defensive pressure to eventually take a 40-39 lead with 8:46 remaining in the second half.
After neither team scored over a two and a half-minute span, Ebony Woods (Philadelphia, Pa.) hit a three-pointer to give UNH the lead for good. Woods then hit four consecutive free throws to expand the lead to six, and the Wildcats held on by going 8-of-10 from the free throw line over the final three minutes of the game.
The Wildcats went cold from the field in the second half, hitting only 15.4 percent (4-of-26) of their shots from the field, including 13.3 percent (2-of-15) of their three-points attempts. UNH went 19-of-22 (86.4 percent) from the free throw line in the second half, while UMBC only went to the charity stripe four times, making three free throws. The Wildcats also outrebounded the Retrievers, 39-30, and held the visitors to 36.8 percent shooting from the field.
Whitney Edwards (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) led the Wildcats with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Woods contributed 12 points, four rebounds, and two steals, while Kelley Haines (Newtown, Conn.) scored eight points and Lindsay Adams (Theresa, N.Y.) added seven points, nine rebounds, and three assists.
UMBC's Amanda Robinson, averaging 2.7 points per game coming into the game, led all players with 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field. Sharri Rohde contributed four points, six rebounds, and nine assists, but Matea Pender, the Retrievers' leading scorer coming into the game, only played two minutes in the second half and was held to seven points.
With the victory, the Wildcats clinched the third seed in next week's America East Tournament in West Hartford, Conn. New Hampshire (14-12, 10-7 America East) closes the regular season on Sunday, March 6, at Boston University beginning at 1 p.m.