WOMEN’S BASKETBALL EDGES HARVARD IN OT THRILLER, 78-65

DURHAM, N.H. - Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) scored a career-high 17 points all in the second half and in overtime to lead the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team to a 78-65 overtime victory over Harvard University on Tuesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium.

With the win, the Wildcats improve to 3-1 on the season, their best start since the 2005-06 campaign, when the ‘Cats won three straight games to start the year 3-1. As for the Crimson, they drop their second straight game, falling to 2-2 on the young season.  

For New Hampshire, the win comes as its largest margin of victory in overtime in program history. It is also UNH's first victory against Harvard since Dec. 29, 1999, when the Wildcats defeated the Crimson 70-58 at Lundholm Gymnasium. The win is also New Hampshire's third at home this season, which is its best start at Lundholm Gymnasium since the 1993-94 campaign, when the ‘Cats won their first six home games on their way to finishing the season 17-11.

UNH kicked off the action playing stingy defense against the Crimson, holding the visitors scoreless for the first 5:16 of the action and not allowing a field goal until the 8:44 mark, when Emma Markley drained a jumper to make the score 15-5 in favor of the home team.

Offensively the ‘Cats were just as tenacious, lacing the nets for a 20-5 run to start the game, as Diamon Beckford (Philadelphia, Pa.) knocked down a pair of free throws to cap off the run with 6:49 remaining in the first half.  Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.) kicked off the run for New Hampshire with layup at 17:31, on her way to pouring in 11 points during the stretch.

Elle Hagedorn ended the run with a layup with 6:31 remaining, as she sparked a stretch in which the Crimson scored seven unanswered points, with the score set at 20-10 in favor of UNH with 4:44 remaining in the first half.

Jilliane Friel (Durham, N.H.) answered the call for the Wildcats as she drained a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, building UNH's lead back up to 14 points with score 26-12 with 3:36 remaining.

Following Friel's pair of treys, the two squads would trade baskets for the remainder of the stanza, with UNH holding a 29-20 lead at intermission.

The start of the second half was much the same for both teams, as the two went back and forth with one another in the early going with UNH holding a lead no larger than 12 points in the first ten minutes of the half.

The Crimson would catch fire just past the midway point, as Christine Matera drained a trifecta to spark a 14-4 run that would knot up the action at 53-53 with 3:57 remaining.

McDonald would score a bucket on UNH's next trip down the floor to put the Wildcats back out in front 55-53. However, the basket wasn't enough to silence the Crimson, as they continued their hot shooting as Brogan Berry knocked down a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to give Harvard its first lead of the game, with the score 56-55 with 3:17 remaining.

Next trip down Beckford nailed a pair of free throws, to give the ‘Cats the lead once again with score set at 57-56. After nearly one minute of scoreless play, the Crimson responded, as Emma Markley layed the ball with 1:00 remaining to put the visitors up 58-57.

The Wildcats had one last chance to put the Crimson away for good as Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) drove along the baseline in the final seconds of regulation in an attempt to score the game-winner, but was fouled by Christine Matera and sent to the line for a pair of free throws with 0:03 remaining. Simpson drained the first of two free throws, sending the game into overtime tied at 58-58.

The Wildcats made quick work of the Crimson at the start of the overtime period as Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) and Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) drained back-to-back 3-pointers on ensuing possessions to put the ‘Cats up 64-58 with 3:39 remaining.

New Hampshire's quick start was a forecast of things to come, as the Wildcats posted a 12-2 run to kick off overtime. The hot shooting didn't stop there, as the ‘Cats shot 80 percent (4-for-5) from the field in overtime, on their way to outscoring the Crimson 20-7 in the stanza to secure the victory.

McDonald, who was named America East Player of the Game for UNH, finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and a career-high three assists. Williams tallied 18 points and eight rebounds, four steals and two assists. Beliveau finished with 14 points, a career-high 14 boards and two blocks.

Simpson chipped in with eight points, eight assists and two blocks. Beckford notched a career-high eight points and pulled in five rebounds.

As for the Crimson, Emma Markely finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Brogan Berry and Victoria Lippert chipped in with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

The Wildcats return to action on Sunday, Nov. 29 at noon when they travel to Quinnipiac University to take on the Bobcats at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.

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