DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire women’s basketball team held the lead for the majority of the game, but Bryant University pulled ahead with 42 seconds remaining to steal a victory from the Wildcats, 69-66, in the season-opener on Friday evening at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats, who have dropped just their second season-opener game in nine years, are now 0-1 on the season. The Bulldogs improve to 1-0.
Freshman Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) delivered a game-high 20 points, while junior Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) contributed with 14 to lead the Wildcats in scoring.
The Wildcats, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams and Hogan, opened up the game by going ahead 6-0. The Bulldogs closed the gap, however, coming as close as two points, 6-5, on a layup by Siamone Bennett at 17:27.
New Hampshire was able to hold onto the lead and went ahead by six points once again on an old fashioned three-point play by Williams, with 6:35 remaining in the opening stanza (24-18). Williams finished the half with 10 points for the Wildcats. The home team took its largest lead of the first half into the locker room at the half, 37-28. Junior Chrissy Hall (Northbridge, Mass.) totaled all of her eight points and three assists during the first half of action.
The Wildcats started strong in the second half, gaining a 13-point lead, 45-32, with 16:23 to play, however, the Bulldogs went on a 15-2 run to knot the score, 47-47, with 12:24 left in regulation. With the score tied, 50-50, at 10:46, Hogan delivered five straight points for the Wildcats, including a 3-pointer, to regain the lead 55-50, halfway through the second stanza. Junior Racheal Folwer (Glassboro, N.J.) then connected on a layup to give the Wildcats a seven-point cushion, 59-52, with just under eight minutes to play.
With just over three minutes to play the Bulldogs commenced their comeback on a 3-pointer by Kelsey O’Keefe, who finished a team-high 17 points for the visitors. Courtney Schermerhorn hit a jumper to cut the deficit to one, 64-63, with 1:42 to play and Cara Johnson hit a free throw to even the score, 64-64, with 1:15 left in regulation. Two more free-throws by Schermerhorn gave the Bulldogs the lead, 66-64, with 42 seconds to play.
Hogan hit a fast-break layup to get the Wildcats within one-point, 67-66, with 24 seconds on the clock, but the Bulldogs hit free-throws once again to take a three-point lead, 69-66, with four seconds remaining. The home squad initiated a last-chance effort, but time ran out on the Wildcats.
Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) and Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) chipped in with seven points apiece for the Wildcats. Hogan, who was named America East Player of Game for the Wildcats, dished out four assists and pulled down eights boards to lead the Wildcats in both categories in her first collegiate game.
New Hampshire returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 19, as the team will travel to Massachusetts to face the Minutewomen at 7 p.m.