AMES, Iowa – Senior Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) recorded a season-high 24 points and three other Wildcats reached double-figures as the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team ousted the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 79-71, in the consolation game of the Cyclone Challenge Friday afternoon at the Hilton Coliseum.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 7-5 heading into conference play, while NJIT dips to 5-8 on the season.
Beliveau, who was named to the all-tournament team, shot 8-of-14 from the floor and added 12 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season, finishing 3-of-4 from long range. Junior Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine) logged 20 points and nine rebounds, shooting 7-of-18 from the field. Sophomore Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) and senior Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) posted 13 and 11, respectively, as Hogan added four assists and LaRosa was 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Rayven Johnson recorded a game-high 26 points to lead NJIT, while the Wildcats shot 42.1 percent (24-57) from the floor.
NJIT came out shooting and jumped out to a quick 5-0 advantage to open the contest before Frame put the Wildcats on the board with a post basket at the 16:28 mark. The tally sparked a 16-5 Wildcat run, including nine points from Frame, to put UNH on top, 16-10, with 11:20 left in the stanza.
From there, the Highlanders answered back with a 13-2 stretch to regain the lead at 21-18. Beliveau halted the streak with eight straight points, capped off with back-to-back treys less than 25 seconds apart, giving UNH the 26-23 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the first half.
NJIT rebounded with an 8-2 run to move back on top, but Beliveau stepped back and drained a deep 3-pointer to even up the score at 31-31 at the 3:55 mark.
The teams swapped baskets throughout the remainder of the half, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Hogan and junior Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.), as the score was all evened up at 39-39 at intermission. Beliveau led all players with 15 points at the break, while the Wildcats shot 60 percent (6-of-10) from 3-point range in the opening stanza.
NJIT opened the second half with a 5-0 run, but UNH responded with nine unanswered points for the 50-44 advantage, forcing NJIT to take a timeout at the 15:20 mark. Beliveau and Hogan provided a bulk of the offense during the stretch as they were able to find the basket on driving layups for a combined 10 points.
Over the next seven minutes, NJIT slowly chipped away at the lead as the teams exchanged frequent trips to the free throw line, until Sarah Olson and Johnson hit consecutive shots to even the score at 55-55 with 8:35 remaining.
The teams continued to swap baskets and free throw attempts as UNH held a slim one-point lead, before Frame netted seven unanswered points, headlined by a conventional 3-point play, to give her team the 66-58 lead with 4:22 remaining.
NJIT kept up the pressure during the final four minutes of play as Johnson continued to drive inside and Denisa Domiterova hit a late 3-pointer, but the Wildcats hit 11 free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.
The Wildcats open America East action on Monday, Jan. 2 when they visit UMBC at 7 p.m. From there, UNH plays host to Hartford on Jan. 5 in the conference home-opener at 7 p.m. For tickets, and more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.
Cyclone Challenge All-Tournament Team
Chelsea Poppens, Iowa State (MVP)
Hallie Christofferson, Iowa State
Brittany Hedderson, Buffalo
Denise Beliveau, New Hampshire
Rayven Johnson, NJIT