DURHAM, N.H. — The University of New Hampshire built an early 12-point lead, then fended off repeated challenges by the University of Maine to earn a 61-54 America East women’s basketball victory Tuesday night at Lundholm Gym.
The Wildcats came away with a 41-35 rebounding advantage that led to 16 second-half points and the hosts outscored the Black Bears 11-6 from the foul line to earn the victory.
“I don’t think we got enough rebounds and I think we gave them too many second-chance opportunities both halves,” Barron said.
UMaine shot 42 percent from the field overall, but made only two of 11 from 3-point distance and also struggled to a 6-for-14 effort, or 43 percent, from the foul line.
“That was huge. That was a big key,” Barron said of UMaine’s foul-shooting woes.
Senior Corinne Wellington headed a list of four double-figure scorers with 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds for coach Richard Barron’s Bears (2-19, 1-6 AE). Freshman Liz Wood contributed 12 points, while junior Ashleigh Roberts (7 rebounds) and sophomore Courtney Anderson of Greene (5 rebounds) chipped in with 10 points each.
Kaylee Fitzpatrick paced New Hampshire (8-12, 3-5 AE) with 16 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocked shots. Cari Reed also scored 16 points, while Elizabeth Belanger and Ariel Gaston (4 assists, 3 steals) logged eight points each.
The Wildcats went 11-for-14 from the foul line.
The Black Bears made a move four minutes into the second half, trailing 39-29. Walczak made a jump shot, Roberts sank a free throw and Wood made a layup to cut the deficit to five points.
Wellington then provided a conventional three-point play and Roberts drove the lane for a basket that tied the game 39-39 with 13 minutes remaining.
However, Roberts missed the free throw that would have completed the three-point play.
New Hampshire responded as Gaston sank a jumper and Jilliane Friel made a layup, before Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 43-42. However, UMaine missed its next three shots and committed two turnovers.
UNH countered with jumpers by Reed and Kilpatrick that helped the hosts put together an 11-3 run that gave them a 50-42 bulge with 6:59 to play.
UMaine never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
“I think there were some plays where we were way too hesitant and ended up getting our shots blocked,” Barron said. “We weren’t aggressive enough to win a basketball game.”
UMaine returns to action Saturday with a noon league game against Maryland Baltimore County at Alfond Arena in Orono.
The Wildcats sprang to a 14-4 advantage during the first 7:01 of the contest.
UNH shot 6-for-9 from the floor while UMaine struggled to 2-for-7 accuracy and committed three turnovers.
Reed sparked the offensive charge, hitting two 3-pointers and adding another basket for eight points in the first 2:37 of the game.
The Wildcats grabbed an 18-14 rebounding edge in the first half, including 10 boards on the offensive end of the floor.