Cats Take New Hampshire, Binghamton; Improve to 12-5, 4-3 in the League

The University of Vermont women’s basketball team displayed a balanced offensive attack as four different players reached double figures in the scoring column in a 76-70 victory over visiting New Hampshire in an America East Conference contest last wednesday. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Catamounts and evened their league record to 3-3, while improving to 11-5 overall. New Hampshire falls to 7-10 overall, 2-4 in America East. Vermont jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead to start the game, but the Wildcats were able to reel the Catamounts back in and take a 6-5 lead on a 6-0 run at 15:28 of the first half. The game remained close throughout the first 20 minutes. It wasn’t until the 2:26 mark, with the game tied at 28-28 that Vermont was able to build a slight cushion. A lay-up by senior Morgan Hall keyed an 8-0 run and gave Vermont a 36-28 lead as the teams headed into the locker room. The Catamounts continued to build on its halftime lead in the opening minutes of the second half to take a 41-28 lead at the 18:08 mark. Again, New Hampshire closed the gap. A three-pointer by Geneva Livingston ignited a 12-2 Wildcat run and brought UNH within three, 43-40, with 13:51 left to play. Vermont answered right back. Sophomore Tiffany Spinka (Albany, N.Y.), playing in her first game of the season after sitting out with a back injury, drained a three-pointer to jump-start a 14-4 Vermont run and shove the Catamounts back in front, 57-44, with 8:51 left. Vermont would maintain the comfortable lead until the final 1:30 when UNH put together a 7-3 spurt for the final margin. Junior Maren Matthias posted her 10th double-double of the season behind a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead New Hampshire. Livingston added 11 points, four rebounds and six assists. Senior Morgan Hall led the quartet of Catamounts in double figures. She posted her third double-double of the year with a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. Theresa LaRocque and Lani Boardman each netted a season-high 16 points, while Dawn Cressman chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds. Spinka finished her first game of the year with eight points, including two three-pointers, and six rebounds. Vermont, which leads the nation in free-throw percentage, shot 87% from the stripe, making 20 of 23 attempts, while New Hampshire shot just 63.6% (7-for-11) from the line. The Cats then took on Binghamton on Saturday afternoon after retiring Sheri Turnbull’s jersey number in a ceremony before the tip off. Turnbull is Vermont’s all-time leading scorer for the womens basketball program. A 9-0 Vermont run in with eight minutes left gave the Catamounts the lift they needed to get past visiting Binghamton, 66-63. Vermont (12-5, 4-3), which shot just 34.5% in the first half, held an eight-point lead in the first stanza, but a 9-3 Binghamton run over the final five minutes gave the Bearcats a 34-28 lead as the teams headed to the locker room. Binghamton shot 46.4% in the first half. In the second half, the Catamounts trailed throughout. Binghamton (7-10, 3-4) built a seven point lead, 47-40, on a layup by Erin Forkey. Vermont kept attacking the Bearcat defense and a three-pointer by Lani Boardman with 6:26 left knotted the game up 55-55. Morgan Hall followed with another three-pointer and gave Vermont its first lead, 58-55, since 5:13 of the first half. Rachel Laws completed a three-point play at 5:12 to tie the game up at 58. Vermont answered with a jumper by Theresa LaRocque and a three-pointer by Tiffany Spinka pushed UVM’s lead to five, 63-58, with 4:11 left. Laws would earn another three-point play and convert to bring the Bearcats within two, 63-61, with 2:30 remaining. LaRocque sank two free throws to put Vermont back out in front by four, 65-61, with 20 seconds left. Binghamton came within two again on Leala Wegwerth’s jumper with 10 seconds left. Senior Dawn Cressman made one of two free throws with nine seconds left for the final margin. Hall led three Catamounts in scoring. She posted her second straight double-double with game-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds. LaRocque chipped in 14 points and Cressman added 12. UVM made up for its poor shooting in the first half by shooting 60.9% in the second stanza. Laws led the Bearcats with 15 points, three rebounds and four assists. Forkey added 12 points and Kate Townley chipped in 10 points and handed out six assists. Binghamton shot 47.3% from the field for the game. Vermont returns to action on Wednesday, February 5 when it travels to Holy Cross for a non-conference game. Tip-off is slated for 7:00pm and the game can be heard on WVMT-620 AM. -SportsInfo