BANGOR, Maine – Sophomore guard Elizabeth Belanger (Acton, Mass.) hit the game-winning basket with 0.9 seconds left as the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team edged out the University of Maine, 74-73 at the Cross Insurance Center Wednesday evening.
New Hampshire tallies back-to-back wins and improves its record to 12-8 overall and 6-1 in America East play. Maine falls to 10-11, 4-4. The Wildcats have won eight consecutive games against their arch-rival, including the last four at Maine.
Belanger matched her career-high in scoring with 20 points on 9 of 14 shooting. In addition, Belanger set a personal-best in steals with four. Junior guard Ariel Gaston (Toledo, Ohio) set a new career-high with 14 points. Classmate Kaylee Kilpatrick (Saint John, New Brunswick) notched her fifth career double-double performance on 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Senior guard Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) chipped in 14 points and tallied seven assists.
Sophomore forward Liz Wood paced the Black Bears in scoring with 18 points. Guards Sophie Weckstrom and Ashleigh Roberts also eclipsed double figures in scoring on tallies of 13 and 12 respectively. Freshman guard Sigi Koizar led the rebounding effort with seven boards in the loss.
New Hampshire shot 31 of 56 from the field to post a .554 field goal percentage. Maine was 26 of 49 from the floor to compile a .554 clip. The Wildcats outrebounded the Black Bears, 31-26.
The Wildcats trailed for the entire second half as the Black Bears led 72-70 with 40 seconds left. Maine hit only one free throw on the ensuing possession. After a full timeout called, Gaston slashed through the Black Bear defense to net a layup to trail, 73-72 with 15 seconds to go. New Hampshire immediately fouled Roberts to send her to the free throw line.
Roberts could not convert the one-and-one as Belanger snagged the rebound. As time was expiring, Gaston found Belanger in stride. The guard drove into the paint for the floater as the attempt went through the net with nine-tenths of a second left on the clock. Maine's last second attempt was not released in time as UNH rallied for the 74-73 win.
Maine jumped out to a 10-4 lead to start the match. UNH stormed back to level the score at 15, capped off by five straight points from Hogan. However, Maine was able to string together a 10-4 streak to pull ahead 25-19 with 7:25 left in the first half.
New Hampshire retaliated with a 6-0 rally of its own to level the score at 25. UNH took its first lead since the opening basket at 4:29 in the first half. Sophomore forward Corinne Coia (North Smithfield, R.I.) converted a pair of free throws to give the 'Cats a 29-28 edge.
Each side exchanged baskets to raise the score to 36-35 in favor of the Wildcats. Noneoftheless, the Black Bears recorded back-to-back layups to enter halftime with a 39-36 lead.
After a 2 minute, 53 second scoring drought from both sides, Gaston opened the scoring in the second half with a layup. Maine responded with a 6-0 run to extend its lead to 45-38 with 16:01 to go in the second frame.
The Wildcats were able to cut down the Black Bears' lead down to two as Sarah-Marie Frankenberger (Gross Gerau, Germany) drained a trey to highlight a 6-2 run.
Maine fended off the surge as the home team stretched its lead to seven at 58-51 with 9:30 remaining in the frame.
The Wildcats again narrowed the Black Bears' lead down to two as part of an 8-4 run. Maine managed to reconstruct its lead to six at 69-63 with 3:18 left in the half. UNH followed up with five consecutive points to trail Maine, 69-68.
With 1:32 to go in the second stanza, Weckstrom made it a two-possession game on a 3-pointer to give Maine a 72-68 edge. On the next possession, Frankenberger drew the foul and made both of her baskets from the charity stripe.
UNH returns to Lundholm Gymnasium on Sunday, Feb. 2 (1 p.m.) to host the Binghamton University Bearcats in its annual Play 4Kay game. Fans who wear pink to the game will get free admission. For tickets, visit UNHWildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.