ORONO, Maine – Senior Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) matched a season-high with 24 points, including a stretch of 13 straight during the second half, to lead the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team past the University of Maine, 66-50, Wednesday evening at Memorial Gymnasium.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 11-9 overall and 4-4 in league play, while the Black Bears drop to 5-16 on the season and 2-6 in the conference.
Beliveau, the America East Player of the Game for UNH, shot 8-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-5 from 3-point range. She netted 18 points in the second stanza and hit all five of her free throws during the contest. Sophomore Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) posted 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, adding three steals and three assists. Junior Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) chipped in with nine points and six rebounds, while freshman Ariel Gaston (Toledo, Ohio) registered a game-high five assists.
Ashleigh Roberts earned player of the game honors for Maine as she posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats raced out to an early 12-7 lead, sparked by Beliveau with three straight scoring drives to open the stretch, and followed by Hogan and Reed with back-to-back 3-pointers. Hogan and Reed came back to alternate scoring on the next two possessions, this time down low to push the visitors in front, 16-7, with 13:56 left in the first half.
The Black Bears responded with a 6-3 stretch over the next 4:54 to pull within six, but Gaston silenced the comeback with a shot from beyond the arc, giving UNH the 22-13 advantage.
Following a free throw by the Black Bears, Reed picked off a pass on Maine's next possession and hit senior Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) on the fast break for the easy layup. Gaston was next to score for UNH, as her driving lay-in through traffic gave the Wildcats a 26-15 lead with 3:51 remaining in the half.
Maine answered back with a 6-2 stretch, but New Hampshire closed out the half with two quick baskets as Hogan drove the baseline for a reverse layup with three seconds left, giving the Wildcats the 32-21 lead at halftime.
Hogan led all scorers with 10 points in the opening 20 minutes, while Reed added seven points and three rebounds. The Wildcats shot 48.3 percent (14-29) from the floor in the half.
Maine opened the second half with a 6-1 run, before Reed netted an easy lay-in on an inbound pass from Gaston to give the Wildcats the 35-27 advantage at the first media timeout. Reed's bucket kicked off an 8-2 stretch, until Samantha Baranowski drove to the hoop to pull the Black Bears within 10 at 41-31 with 12:33 left to play.
From there, Beliveau took over offensively as she scored UNH's next 13 points, including consecutive 3-pointers to spark the stretch, ultimately giving the Wildcats a 54-37 advantage with 8:03 remaining.
The two teams played even basketball during the closing eight minutes of action, with New Hampshire holding a slight one-point edge during the period, as the Wildcats'16-point lead was enough to seal the victory.
The Wildcats return home on Saturday, Jan. 28 when they play host to UMBC at 1 p.m. For tickets, and more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.