Women's Basketball Drops Regular Season Finale to Hartford, 62-52

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.

Kelsey Hogan

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.

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