DURHAM, N.H. – Playing in the final home game of her career, senior Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) paced all players with 16 points and seven rebounds to lead the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team to Wednesday's 65-53 America East victory against Maine on Senior Night at Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats guaranteed their first winning season since 2005-06 by improving to 15-12 on the season and 8-7 in America East play, sweeping the season series over rival Maine. The Black Bears fall to 6-22, 3-12 in AE action.
UNH, which will earn either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed in the upcoming America East Championship tournament, knows it will oppose UMBC in a quarterfinal game Saturday, March 2. Time and official seeding to will be determined following Saturday's final day of regular-season competition.
Beliveau, the America East Player of the Game for UNH, shot 5-of-15 from the floor and added three assists. Junior Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine) finished with 13 points, six rebounds and four steals, while senior Kelley Flynn (Hopkinton, N.H.) added a season-high 11 points. Junior Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) rounded out the quartet of double-digit scorers with 10 points, including three 3-pointers.
Brittany Williams was named the player of the game for Maine as she registered 13 points and four boards. As a team, the Wildcats shot 40 percent from the field, including a 45.8 clip in the second stanza.
Flynn scored New Hampshire's first four points, helping the 'Cats erase their only deficit of the game (2-0) en route to a 4-2 lead. Beliveau racked up a team-high 10 first-half points, and UNH overcame 9-of-26 (34.6 percent) field-goal shooting by connecting on 9 of 12 (75 percent) from the free throw line en route to a 30-22 halftime lead.
UNH scored a quick four points following the break, sparked by senior Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) who intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for the driving layup. The 'Cats kept up the momentum on the next possession with a bucket in the paint by Frame, pushing the home side on top by a 34-22 margin.
Maine responded with five unanswered points over the next 2:08, but the Wildcats answered right back with a 7-0 run as Frame drained a free throw for the 41-27 advantage at the 14:03 mark.
Slowly but surely, the Black Bears chipped away at New Hampshire's lead over the next 7:12 of action, ending with five straight free throws to pull within five at 48-43 with 7:51 left to play.
The Black Bears would not get closer, however, as UNH reeled off a 13-1 run, including nine free throws during the stretch, to go out in front by 17 and secure the victory.
UNH closes out the regular season with a road game at Binghamton on Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at 2 p.m. For more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com.