WOMEN'S BASKETBALL RALLIES PAST HOLY CROSS, 80-72

AMY SIMPSON

DURHAM, N.H. - Amy Simpson (Waterford, Conn.) recorded 10 points and a career-high 11 assists to propel the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team to Sunday afternoon's 80-72 victory against the College of the Holy Cross in non-conference action at Lundholm Gymnasium.

UNH improves to 4-5 overall and is 4-1 at Lundholm Gymnasium. Holy Cross is 3-8.

Simpson, who also recorded two steals and two blocks, was one of five Wildcats to score in double digits. Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) led all scorers with 20 points and was followed by Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.; 18 points, six rebounds), Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass.; 15 points, nine rebounds) and Racheal Fowler (Glassboro, N.J.; 10 points).

Holy Cross was led offensively by Bethany O'Dell, who made six of the team's 11 3-pointers and finished with 20 points. Whitney Fremeau (16 points), Amy Lepley (12) and Briana McFadden (12) also scored in double figures.

The Wildcats trailed 37-33 at halftime and faced their largest deficit of the game, 47-39, with 15:37 remaining in the game when they went on a 10-0 run in a span of 2:37 to take a 49-39 lead. Simpson ignited the spurt by setting up a basket by McDonald and then driving the left baseline for a layup. Beliveau continued the momentum swing by intercepting the ball in the passing lane and driving down the court for a layup. Another UNH layup, this time by Williams, evened the score, 47-47, at 13:59 and the ‘Cats went in front on Simpson's jumper at 13:00.

The teams exchanged scores to move the score to 51-51, then McDonald hit a pair of free throws at 11:09 to give New Hampshire a lead it would not relinquish as Williams followed her own miss for a layup and duplicated that effort on UNH's next possession to give the ‘Cats a 57-51 advantage with 9:28 remaining.

UNH pushed its lead to eight points, 63-55, at 6:00 on a layup by Chrissy Hall (Northbridge, Mass.), who contributed four points, four rebounds and four assists, and took a double-digit advantage of 66-56 on a Williams free throw with 5:02 to play.

Simpson then helped the ‘Cats build a 71-56 lead with a steal and long outlet pass to Fowler for a layup, and on the next possession she made a 3-pointer.

Holy Cross faced a 74-61 deficit with 52 seconds on the clock, but then Lepley hit a 3-point shot and stole the inbounds pass to set up Alyssa May's 3-pointer that pulled the visitors within 74-67 with 32 seconds to play.

McDonald was fouled and made both ends of the 1-and-1 at the foul line to give UNH a 76-67 cushion and then hit two more free throws with 21 seconds remaining to push the advantage to 11 points and secure the victory.

In the opening five minutes of the game, UNH opened up a 10-4 lead behind four baskets in the paint by McDonald. Holy Cross' O'Dell responded with consecutive 3-pointers to level the score at 10, then a Tayana Carper jumper gave the visitors a 12-10 lead and O'Dell hit another shot from beyond the arc at 12:00 to extend the advantage to five points.

Beliveau answered with a 3-pointer on UNH's next possession to end Holy Cross' 11-point run, but O'Dell once again connected from 3-point range to move the score to 18-13. The ‘Cats trailed 22-18 when Fowler and McDonald made back-to-back layups to even the score, 22-22.

The Crusaders quickly regained the lead on Fremeau's layup and then Lepley's layup gave them a 26-22 advantage with 4:38 remaining in the first half. The teams traded scores to move the score to 32-28, at which point a layup by McFadden gave Holy Cross its largest lead of the half at 34-28.

Beliveau's 3-pointer was answered by O'Dell at the other end of the court, but UNH took some momentum into the locker room on Fowler's offensive putback in the waning seconds that pulled the ‘Cats within four points.

Williams' 15 points in the contest gives her 989 for her career, pushing her that much closer to reaching the 1,000-point plateau for her career. If she does reach the mark, she will become just the 14th Wildcat in program history to achieve the feat.

New Hampshire returns to action Dec. 22 at home against the University of Louisville, which advanced to the 2009 NCAA title game. The "Jam the Gym" game begins at 7 p.m. at Lundholm Gym.

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