WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Junior forward Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) notched 14 points and a career-best 16 rebounds, but the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team fell to the University of Hartford, 62-52, Saturday afternoon at Chase Arena.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 9-19 and 6-10 in America East play, while Hartford improves to 14-15 and 11-5 in conference action.
Beliveau was named the America East Player of the Game for the 'Cats, earning her conference-best 11th double-double of the season. She has earned a double-double in four of the last six games and has snared double-digit rebounds in five of the last six games.
Ruthanne Doherty was selected as the player of the game for Hartford, tallying a game-high 16 points, 11 rebounds and two assists.
Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) chipped in with 10 points, four assists and two boards.
Hartford opened up the contest with an 8-5 advantage, but the Wildcats followed up scoring on two straight possessions, kicking off a 12-4 run that gave the visitors a 17-12 edge with 12:57 remaining in the first frame.
Beliveau ignited the stretch, sinking a triple and tallying three points the old-fashioned-way on back-to-back possessions to start the stretch with six unanswered points. After a pair of Doherty layups briefly reclaimed the lead, Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) and Beliveau drilled trifectas on two straight trips up the floor to give UNH the five-point advantage.
After exchanging baskets, the Hawks responded with 12 unanswered points to take back the lead, 27-19, with just over six minutes remaining in the frame. Lauren Wells (West Chester, Pa.) ended UNH's scoreless streak when she knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key just before the shot clock expired at 4:34, cutting the deficit down to five.
Despite Wells' bucket, the 'Cats would be held without a field goal the rest of the half, scoring three points in the final minutes of the stanza, as Hartford claimed a 31-25 edge at the intermission.
Doherty sank a pair of layups to open up the second half, giving the Hawks their largest lead to that point, 35-25, with 18:44 remaining in regulation.
Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) helped get the 'Cats back on track, sinking a 10-foot jumper in the lane, setting off a 10-2 run that lasted about two minutes, cutting the score to 37-35 at 14:31. The scoring spurt was capped off with a baseline trey from Wells and a McDonald layup on a pick-and-roll, as she finished the play with a layup off the glass from the right side.
After a brief scoring lull by both teams, Ilicia Mathis sank a layup to set up an 11-1 run that built Hartford's lead to its largest margin of the contest, pushing ahead, 48-36, with 9:43 on the clock.
Both teams remained scoreless for about four minutes, until Bridgette McKnight (Norristown, Pa.) drilled a jumper just inside in the 3-point line and Sarah-Marie Frankenberger (Gross Gerau, Germany) sank a trifecta from the top of the key on consecutive possessions, setting up a 6-2 run that cut the score to 50-42 at 2:57.
The next two minutes of the action featured both squads exchanging baskets, until the 'Cats made one last effort to take back the lead, posting an 8-3 scoring stretch in a 20-second span on the back of a pair of Hogan 3-pointers that cut the score to 57-52 with 35 seconds remaining. However, the scoring spurt wasn't enough, as the Hawks finished out the contest with five unanswered points to preserve the victory.
The sixth-seeded Wildcats return to action Friday, March 4 (2:15 p.m.) when they take on third-seeded Binghamton University in the quarterfinals of the America East Women's Basketball Championships at Hartford's Chase Arena.