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College Basketball: Londonderry's Simpson urged to shoot more at UNH

By JOHN HABIB
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 18. 2016 9:50PM
UNH's Aliza Simpson uses a screen by teammate Stephanie Spoto during Monday's game in Durham. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

DURHAM - Her coach knows it, her teammates know it and more importantly, she knows it.

Aliza Simpson of Londonderry, who was a 1,000-point scorer and the state’s top high school player two seasons ago, needs to shoot the ball more for the struggling University of New Hampshire women’s basketball team.

“She has the green light from me,” said Wildcats head coach Maureen Magarity after Monday’s 62-52 America East Conference setback to the University of Maine at Lundholm Gym. It was the ninth straight loss for UNH (6-11 overall, 0-4 conference), which needs more offense from the perimeter.

On Monday, in 36 minutes, Simpson took just four shots, scoring five points. Her five points came in the second quarter when she buried two consecutive baseline shots, one for a 3-point field goal. Other than that, she missed a 3-point shot in the opening minute of play and her last shot attempt from 3-point land came midway through the third period.

With junior guard Kristen Anderson sidelined with an injury and senior forward Corinne Coia limited due to a nagging knee injury, the team is hoping Simpson can provide a scoring spark, Magarity said.

“With Anderson out, we don’t have any scoring from the perimeter other than (Elizabeth) Belanger (team-high 17 points Monday),” said Magarity. “I’ve pushed Aliza to the off-guard position to get her shooting more and have made Peyton Booth our facilitator.”

Magarity said Simpson “tweaked” her ankle in a recent game against Stony Brook. “I think she’s a little hesitant about that and about turning over the ball,” said the coach. “She’s struggled protecting the ball (six turnovers Monday, team-high 60 for the season) and that’s been on her mind too. Right now I want her to play through it and be aggressive. I see signs she’s getting over the hump, but we need her to score more.”

Magarity would like to get nine to 10 shots from Simpson. She has done that only three times this season and, all three times UNH has won.

In the season opener at home against Colby-Sawyer, Simpson was 5-of-10 and scored 11 points in a 72-41 win. The very next game in Hanover in a 61-57 win against Dartmouth, Simpson was 3-of-9 for 11 points. In a 69-52 triumph at home against Boston University, Simpson was 5-of-10 for 12 points.

Through the first eight games this season, Simpson shot the ball 54 times. She has taken 35 shots in her last eight games.

After Monday’s game, Simpson acknowledged she has to start being selfish, especially when the head coach tells her.

“They’re definitely giving me the green light and I’m not looking for my shot,” said Simpson. “I’ve been more of a facilitator. The offense goes through me and I’m trying to find the open player instead of taking the shot or the ball to the rim. I need to take it upon myself to shoot more.”

On Monday, UNH center Carlie Pogue provided her team with a solid inside game, scoring 16 points. But Maine started figuring it out. The Black Bears packed the inside, daring UNH to make the outside shot. Belanger did some damage, hitting five of her 12 shots.

“If I can get Elizabeth and Aliza to both score from the outside, we’re really going to open up our offense,” said Magarity. “I know Aliza is a very good scorer, know what she’s capable of doing when she finds her rhythm. But she won’t be able to do it unless she shoots the ball more.”

jhabib@unionleader.com


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