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February 20. 2014 11:06PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Women take aim at second seed

DURHAM -- The University of New Hampshire women’s and men’s basketball teams pulled off a doubleheader sweep at America East and Division I newcomer UMass-Lowell on Jan 26.

The Wildcats will attempt to do it again on Saturday at Lundholm Gymnasium.

The UNH women, looking to lock up the No. 2 seed for the America East tournament, kick off a three-game stretch run of home contests against the River Hawks at 1 p.m.

The UNH and UMass-Lowell men meet at 3:30.

The Maureen Magarity-coached women are coming off a 71-50 win at Vermont on Wednesday and have won three straight games and six of their last seven. They are 17-9 overall and at 11-2 in America East trail only Albany (14-0) in the league standings.

Stony Brook is 10-3 in the league.

“If we can find a way to take care of what we need to take care of and finish in the second spot, to me that would be incredible considering how we started the season,” Magarity said. “In some of those home games we were looking pretty rough. Now we’ve been able to win the games we’re supposed to win and it’s different. The target’s on our back and everyone seems to be playing us well.”

The Wildcats were 4-7 when December ended and had lost four of their first six home games. They have gone 13-2 overall and 6-0 in their home games since the calendar turned to 2014.

UNH won 75-68 at Lowell, but had its hands full.

“They played really, really well against us and it came down to the last minute of the game,” Magarity said. “They play a real up-tempo style and try to get more possessions and shots than you and we sometimes struggle a bit with that style.”

UMass-Lowell is 5-20 overall and 4-10 in the league.

After Saturday, UNH has Albany in on Wednesday and then plays Maine on Saturday at 1 to close out the regular season.

The Wildcats won their first four league games before getting drilled at Albany, 88-47, on Jan. 23. They won a thriller, 74-73, on Elizabeth Belanger’s basket with less than a second remaining at Maine on Jan. 29.

Albany is 24-3 and has won 37 straight America East games.

Maine is 14-12 overall and 8-5 in the league.

The UNH men will be out to bounce back from Wednesday’s 79-44 loss at home to first-place Vermont.

The Wildcats rolled over UMass-Lowell, 61-32, in the first meeting.

UNH is 6-20 overall and 4-9 in America East. The River Hawks are 8-18 and 6-8.Bill Herrion’s men hit the road after UMass-Lowell. They finish out the regular season with games at Albany on Thursday night and at Maine on Sunday.
 
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NOW they wait.

The University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team got the two wins and four points in the standings it needed out of last weekend’s home-and-home series with Boston University.

The Wildcats are on the sidelines with a bye and must wait things out this weekend.

They are tied for third place in Hockey East with Maine as the games begin and the tight grouping near the top will be shuffled a bit.

Boston College has wrapped up the regular season championship.

UMass-Lowell is two points in front of Maine and New Hampshire, and Northeastern is a point behind them in fifth. Providence is three points behind Northeastern in sixth.

At the moment, UNH can conceivably finish anywhere from second to seventh in the standings.

The biggest rewards come with finishing in one of the top four spots.

Those teams earn a bye through the first round of the Hockey East playoffs and then have home ice for the quarterfinals.

The team finishing fifth gets a first-round bye, too, but then must go on the road to play the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

Teams that finish sixth, seventh and eighth will be at home for a single game to open the tournament and play the teams that are ninth, 10th and 11th.

This weekend’s league matchups have UMass-Lowell and Boston College, and Massachusetts and Providence playing home-and-home series. Maine is at Northeastern, Vermont is at Merrimack and BU is at Notre Dame for two games each.

UNH closes out the regular season with games at Merrimack on Friday and Saturday of next weekend.


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THE men’s and women’s track teams will be each be out to improve on last year’s fifth-place finishes in the America East Indoor Championships on Sunday and Monday at the New York Armory in New York City.

In last year’s event, the Albany men won their eighth straight title and the Albany women their third in the last four years.

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KUDOS to the women’s swimming and diving team, which won its second straight America East championship last weekend.

It was UNH’s sixth title under head coach Josh Willman and marked the third time the Wildcats have gone back-to-back. They last won consecutive championships in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

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THE women’s lacrosse team plays Dartmouth at home on Saturday at 1. UNH is 1-1 after losing a 17-8 verdict on Thursday at Boston College. Saturday’s game is the season opener for Dartmouth.

alessels@unionleader.com On Twitter: @AllenLessels


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