ORONO — Cari Reed was a known 3-point shooting threat well before Wednesday’s women’s basketball game against the University of Maine.
The University of New Hampshire’s sophomore guard demonstrated that ability in impressive fashion at Alfond Arena.
Reed scored 24 of the Wildcats’ points during a decisive 26-7 scoring run that started late in the first half that sparked New Hampshire to a convincing 67-47 America East victory over the Black Bears.
Reed went 10-for-17 from the floor, including 6-for-11 on 3-pointers, to jumpstart what had been a chilly shooting night for the Wildcats (6-14, 3-5 AE). She finished with a game-high 27 points.
“Cari just played out of her mind,” said first-year New Hampshire coach Maureen Magarity.
“Cari is obviously our best 3-point shooter and she worked hard to get the open looks and she knocked them in,” she added.
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s team slipped to 3-17 overall, 1-7 in conference play, with its fifth consecutive loss.
The Bears were unable to control the surge as the Wildcats ended the first half with an 8-0 burst, then went on a 13-5 run to open the second half.
“(No.) 24 (Reed), she was obviously the one that was hitting the shots and we lost her a number of times and that just can’t happen if you have that defensive mentality to get stops,” Blodgett said.
Reed energized UNH as the first half wound down, connecting for 3-pointers 14 seconds apart to ignite a spurt that gave the Wildcats the load for goo at 26-24.
Reed really heated up after intermission, scoring her team’s’ first 16 points of the half. With UMaine having switched back to its 1-2-2 matchup zone, she buried 3-pointers 50 seconds apart to open the period, before Tanna Ross hit a 3 of her own and Ashleigh Roberts drove in for a hoop to get the Bears within 32-29.
However, Reed scored on an offensive rebound, hit another 3-pointer, made a 16-footer from the baseline and made yet another 3 to propel a 10-2 flurry that gave the Wildcats a 42-31 lead with 14:19 remaining.
“I love seeing zones, ask anyone on my team,” said Reed, who has now made 43 3-pointers this season.
“Honestly, what gets me the most excited is when I see my teammates get excited.”
The Bears cut the deficit to six points initially, but UNH pulled away down the stretch.
“It’s very important to have everyone on the same page and communicating, so if we communicate and everyone’s on the same page, it’s not hard to keep track of shooters, but that was an issue tonight,” Ross said of UMaine’s defensive woes.
The senior from Newburgh went 6-for-9 from 3-point range on her way to a team-high 18 points and snatched six rebounds to lead UMaine. Katelyn Vanderhoff added eight points, five rebounds and four assists, while Shareka Maner posted six points and six rebounds.
Maner saw her most extensive action of the season (22 minutes) and was a disruptive defensive force.
“I thought Shareka gave us a tremendous lift off the bench,” Blodgett said. “I thought she helped us in our pressing situation.”
She also lauded the defensive play of junior Brittany Williams.
The Bears were again plagued by turnover problems and committed 18, which led to 11 UNH points.
Kelsey Hogan tossed in 15 points and Kate Early added 11 for New Hampshire, while Denise Beliveau contributed six points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
The Wildcats grabbed a 49-46 rebounding edge, but snatched 16 offensive boards that led to 14 second-chance points. UNH shot 34 percent, including 9-for-31 (29 percent) from long distance.
“One through five, we can shoot the 3 and that’s usually our strength,” said Magarity, whose team had only seven turnovers.
“We’ve really been kind of on our kids about our turnovers and our assist-to-turnover ratio,” she explained. “I was very pleased with how we moved the ball.”
UMaine was without three players because of injuries. Redshirt freshman guard Rachele Burns of Gorham is out for the season with a left knee injury, junior forward and co-captain Samantha Wheeler has missed 14 straight games with postconcussion symptoms and freshman post player Jaymie Druding sat out her second straight contest with a left shoulder injury.
The Bears return to action Saturday afternoon at Binghamton.
With Reed spearheading the charge, the Wildcats took control during the first six minutes of the second half and never let the Bears get back into contention.
The Wildcats ended the first half with an 8-0 flurry that sent them into the locker room with a 26-24 lead.
Reed hit 3-pointers 14 seconds apart and Beliveau followed with a driving finger roll that turned a 24-18 deficit into the two-point halftime edge.
Defensively, UMaine did a good job limiting New Hampshire’s close-range opportunities. The Wildcats instead settled for long-range shots, which contributed to their 25 percent shooting (11-for-44).
The visitors also clanged their way to a 4-for-18 effort from the 3-point line, but did emerge with a 27-24 rebounding advantage that included 11 offensive boards.
The Bears shot a respectable 35 percent (9-for-26), but were again hampered by their inability to take care of the basketball. UMaine committed 10 turnovers (UNH had three) that contributed to the Wildcats’ advantage of 18 more field-goal attempts.
Ross hit three 3-pointers in the half to pace the Bears, while Ali Nalivaika posted six points and four rebounds. The Bears got some good minutes out of redshirt freshman forward Maner, who provided a presence on defense and on the boards.
Reed and Kelsey Hogan, a former UMaine verbal commit, tallied eight points each for the Wildcats. Jill McDonald added six points and six boards.