BURLINGTON, Vt. – Senior Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) iced a pair of free throws with six seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime and the Wildcats opened the extra frame with 10 straight points, as the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team edged Vermont, 69-63, Saturday afternoon at Patrick Gymnasium.
With 17 seconds left in regulation, Vermont held possession with a two-point lead, but Beliveau and freshman Ariel Gaston (Toledo, Ohio) smothered Kayla Burhchill on the inbound, forcing a change of possession in favor of the Wildcats. On the next play, Beliveau corralled an offensive board on a missed shot, was fouled on the subsequent drive and then drilled both foul shots with six seconds left on the clock to send the game into overtime.
Once in overtime, Beliveau picked up right where she left off at the end of regulation, scoring consecutive layups to spark a 10-0 run, giving UNH the 65-55 lead with 32 seconds left in the game.
Vermont made it interesting, however, using a pair of 3-pointers and free throws to pull within three, 66-63, with 10 seconds remaining. Nevertheless, Beliveau and senior Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) combined for three free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory.
UNH improves to 9-7 overall and 2-2 in America East play, while Vermont drops to 8-10 on the season and 2-3 in the league. New Hampshire is now 5-1 in games decided by five points or less and 2-0 in overtime games this season.
Beliveau recorded 15 points and a career-best 17 rebounds for her league-leading seventh double-double of the season, shooting 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Junior Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine), who earned America East Player of the Game honors for UNH, posted a team-high 16 points and added 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. She shot 7-of-18 from the floor and added three blocks. Junior Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) also reached double-digits with 13 points in the contest.
Junior Lauren Buschmann earned Player of the Game honors for Vermont as she posted 19 points and 12 rebounds.
As a team, the Wildcats shot 34.9 percent (22-63) from the floor and 82.2 percent (24-29) from the free throw line.
Both teams struggled offensively out of the gate, as Vermont held a 7-2 advantage before LaRosa finished off an offensive board with a lay-in down low, pulling UNH within three at the 14:30 mark.
Vermont answered back with a 7-2 run until Reed broke up the stretch with a shot from beyond the arc. However, the Catamounts matched the shot on the next possession as Tierra Shumpert's 3-pointer pushed the home side in front, 17-9, with 9:37 remaining in the half.
From there, the Wildcats reeled off a 12-2 run, capped off by six straight from Reed as the junior drained a short jumper to give UNH its first lead of the contest, 21-19, with 5:07 left in the opening stanza.
The Catamounts climbed back to even the score at 23-23 on a 3-pointer by Burchill, but the visitors responded with back-to-back post buckets by senior Kelley Flynn (Hopkinton, N.H.) for the four-point advantage.
Despite a late trifecta by the Catamounts, the Wildcats went into the lockers rooms with a 27-26 lead at intermission. Reed led all scorers with 9 points in the opening 20 minutes, while Frame kicked in with six points and four rebounds.
New Hampshire opened the second half with four quick points, as sophomore Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) picked off a pass and went coast-to-coast for the layup, followed by a pair of Reed free throws for the 31-26 lead. UVM answered right back with six unanswered, using back-to-back 3-pointers by Shumpert to regain the lead at 32-31 with 17:02 remaining.
Vermont's slim lead did not lost long, however, as the Wildcats used a 10-2 run to pull out in front at 41-34. Frame sparked the stretch with six straight points, while Beliveau added a pair of free throws and Reed chipped in with a driving layup.
The Catamounts slowly chipped away at the Wildcats' seven-point lead over the next 8:06 of action as a layup by Lauren Wheeler pulled the home side within one at 45-44 with five minutes to play.
UNH held a one-point lead after the teams swapped baskets, but Buschmann netted three straight layups to put the Catamounts out in front, 52-49. The teams then traded low post baskets and trips to the free throw line, ending with a two-point Catamount lead with 17 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Beliveau's heroics and the eventual victory.
The Wildcats return home on Jan. 16 when they play host to Stony Brook at 7 p.m. For tickets, and more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.