DURHAM, N.H. – Seniors Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) and Kate Early (Corning, N.Y.) combined for 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting in their final collegiate home game, leading the UNH women's basketball team to a wire-to-wire, 57-40, triumph over the University of Maine at Lundholm Gymnasium Wednesday night.
The victory ups New Hampshire's record to 9-18 and 6-9 in the America East, while Maine dips to 4-23 and 2-13 in conference action.
The Wildcats' balanced offense included 10 points from Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) on 4-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and a near double-double from Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.), who tallied nine points and ripped down a game-high 12 rebounds.
Beliveau was named the America East Player of the Game for the Wildcats, rounding out the evening with three assists and one steal.
Katelyn Vanderhoff was selected as the player of the game for the Black Bears, notching 12 points, four boards and three steals.
The Wildcats scored the first 10 points of the game, powered by the low-post duo of McDonald, who scored six points in the paint, and Early, who tacked on four from under the basket during the spurt. The Black Bears, who here held off the scoreboard for the first 6:50, responded with an 8-0 run to trim UNH's lead to 10-8 with 9:26 remaining in the first frame.
A Wells putback snapped the Maine run, and Beliveau and Wells closed out the half with back-to-back made 3-pointers after UNH started the game 0-for-12 from beyond the arc. The Wildcats, who never trailed in the half, went to the break with a 20-16 lead.
UNH kicked off the second half with a 12-2 run, opening the lead to 32-18 on a Wells 3-pointer. After Maine pieced together a modest 9-4 run to close the gap to 36-27, Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.; 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) ignited a 9-0 'Cats run with a 3-pointer, and back-to-back outlet-pass assists to Wells and Early for a 45-27 advantage at 7:34.
Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.; 8 points, 6 rebounds), who had set a career high with 27 points in the teams' first encounter Jan. 26, hit back-to-back 3-pointers and put back a layup for a personal 8-0 run that increased New Hampshire's advantage to its largest margin of the contest, pushing ahead 55-31 with 3:28 left.
The Wildcats play their final regular season game at the Chase Family Arena against the University of Hartford on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. For more information on the UNH women's basketball team, visit www.unhwildcats.com.