DURHAM, N.H. – Ariel Gaston (Toledo, Ohio) matched a career-high with 10 rebounds, but the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team was defeated 45-40 by Howard University in Wednesday night's non-conference game at Lundholm Gym.
UNH fell to 3-4 overall with its fourth loss in five games and first home setback of the season. Howard, which closed the game on a 15-4 run in the last eight minutes, snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 3-6.
Gaston, the America East Player of the Game, also contributed four points, three assists and two steals while not committing a turnover.
The frontcourt of Corinne Coia (North Smithfield, R.I.) and Kaylee Kilpatrick (Saint John, New Brunswick) led UNH's offense with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Kilpatrick, who was saddled with early foul trouble, was also credited with five rebounds, one assist and one steal in 22 minutes. Coia netted 11 points in 18 minutes off the bench. Elizabeth Belanger (Acton, Mass.) registered six points and nine rebounds.
Howard was led by Cheyenne Brown (10 points), Te'Shya Heslip (10) and Victoria Gonzalez (nine). Gonzalez and Heslip tied with Shavonne Duckett for a team-high seven rebounds.
UNH established a 36-30 lead at 8:30 on Coia's layup that was set up by Gaston. Gonzalez reduced the margin to 36-32 on a layup at 7:04 and Duckett's 3-pointer lifted the Bison within one point, 36-35, at 5:20. Gaston made one foul shot at 4:09 to push the margin to 37-35 and then Gonzalez went 2-for-2 at the foul line to force the fifth tie of the game, 37-37, at 3:55.
Belanger drove through the left side for a layup and 39-37 UNH lead at 3:07, but Brown responded with a jumper at the other end of the court to level the score. The lead changed for a 14th and final time when Wilson buried a jump shot at 2:22 to give the visitors a 41-39 lead.
Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) made 1 of 2 free throws to trim the deficit to 41-40 with 58 seconds remaining. On the next possession, Heslip drove from the top of the key down the left side of the paint and hit a layup with two seconds remaining on the shot clock to extend the advantage to 43-40.
UNH called its last timeout of the game with 26 seconds to play and Kilpatrick, with a defender in her face, missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 13 on the clock. The 'Cats immediately fouled Heslip on the inbounds and she made both foul shots to close the scoring.
In the first half, Howard trailed 9-8 but built its largest lead of the game, five points, on Heslip's layup, Regis Stinson's 3-pointer and a Gonzalez free throw. UNH went on a 9-4 run the next five minutes to tie the score, 18-18, and then a Kendall Martenet (Waukesha, Wis.) basket in the paint put the 'Cats back in front, 20-18, with 3:21 remaining in the first half. Aaliyah Wilson drained a pair of foul shots with 20 seconds on the clock to send the teams into halftime tied at 20.
The Bison netted the initial four points of the second half and led 26-22 until Kilpatrick made a layup and Hogan hit a 3-pointer to put the 'Cats back in front, 27-26, at 12:12. UNH trailed 30-29 but Coia's conventional three-point play gave the home team a 32-30 lead at 9:45. Kilpatrick and Coia hit back-to-back baskets in the paint to build the largest margin of the game, six points.
UNH shot 31.5% from the floor, including 3 of 16 (18.8%) from 3-point range, and made 3 of 7 foul shots. Howard was 2-for-9 from beyond the arc as part of 14-for-46 (30.4%) overall from the field, and the Bison went 15-for-18 from the charity stripe.
New Hampshire returns to action Saturday, Dec. 7 (2 p.m.) at Dartmouth College. The Wildcats' next home game is Dec. 18 (12 p.m.) against Cleveland State University.