WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of New Hampshire women's basketball team erased an 18-point deficit in the first half to rally past the University of Hartford Hawks, 61-56 in Saturday's America East match at the Chase Family Arena.
New Hampshire improves to 9-7 and remains unbeaten in conference play with a 3-0 mark. Furthermore, UNH extends its winning streak to five games. Hartford falls to 4-13, 1-3.
Sophomore forward Corinne Coia (North Smithfield, R.I.), led all scorers with 16 points and snagged five rebounds. Senior guard Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.), starting her 100th game of her collegiate career, chipped in 11 points and served a season-high seven assists. New Hampshire shot 23 of 55 from the field for a .418 percentage.
Freshman forward Alyssa Reeves paced Hartford with 10 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Guards Deanna Mayza and Amber Bepko each tallied nine points apiece. The Hawks were held to 21 of 68 from the field for a .309 clip.
The Hawks led for 35 minutes, 39 seconds in the match, including an 18-point advantage in the first half. New Hampshire overcame the deficit in the second half as Sarah-Marie Frankenberger (Gross Gerau, Germany) hit a 3-pointer to even the score 50-50 with 4:43 left in the frame. After a free throw shot by Cherelle Moore of Hartford, Coia netted the go-ahead basket at 3:34 and New Hampshire never looked back. The Wildcats closed the game on a 9-5 run to earn the come from behind win.
Hartford darted out on an 8-0 run to open the first half. After an early 30-second timeout called by UNH, Hogan put the Wildcats on the board with a trey. Each side exchanged field goals as the score stood 10-5 in favor of Hartford with 15:36 left in the first frame.
The Hawks extended their lead to 19-5 on a 9-0 run, elapsing over a span of 6:12. The Hawks extended their lead to 26-8 with 6:09 remaining in the first half.
New Hampshire shooting came back to life in the waning moments of the first half, chipping down the Hawks' lead. Kristen Anderson (Greene, Maine) and Coia were able to convert layups while fouled to jumpstart the offense. Sophomore guard Elizabeth Belanger (Acton, Mass.) followed with three points on free throw shots as the 'Cats trailed Hartford 31-20 with 2:14 left in the first period. Each side exchanged layups to enter the halftime as Hartford led, 33-22.
Bepko opened the half for the Hawks with a 3-pointer in Hartford's first possession of the second frame. Frankenberger retaliated with a trey of her own to bring the deficit back to 11 again.
The Wildcats narrowed the Hawks' advantage down to six at 39-33 with 16:22 to go in the second stanza. Hartford and New Hampshire traded blows as the score raised to 46-40 at the midway point of the half.
Junior guard Ariel Gaston (Toledo, Ohio) slashed the Hawks' lead down to three with a 3-pointer. However, Reaves converted a layup for Hartford to increase Hartford's lead to five. Following field goals from each side, junior forward Kaylee Kilpatrick (Saint John, New Brunswick) pulled the 'Cats within a basket again at 50-47 with 7:17 to go in the half.
Frankenberger evened the score for the first time since the opening tip at with a straight-away 3-pointer at 4:43.
Hartford momentarily recaptured the lead on a Cherelle Moore free throw. On the subsequent possession, Hogan added another helper to her tally to find Coia in the post for the go-ahead layup, giving UNH its first lead of the game at 52-51. The Wildcats tacked on four more points with free throws from Anderson and Hogan to pad the lead to five. New Hampshire fended off the Hartford surge in the expiring moments of the game to compete the 61-56 come from behind win.
UNH is back in action at Lundholm Gymnasium on Monday, Jan. 20 (7 p.m.) as the Wildcats host the University of Vermont Catamounts. For tickets, visit UNHWildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.