Is Quinnipiac Ready for Atlantic City?


Courtesy: Seth Fromowitz | QBSN

Keenan Mills, Beat Reporter: Quinnipiac Women's Basketball

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team entered Thursday as one of the hottest teams in the MAAC. With a ten-game win streak, the Bobcats were playing their best brand of basketball all year and it was going to be hard to bet against them come tournament time.


That is until the Niagara Purple Eagles drove past Sleeping Giant and decided they wanted to play spoiler. A team that forced 35 turnovers in this season’s earlier three-point victory against the Bobcats.


But that was back in January. In a Niagara gym. Quinnipiac was a new team playing with a certain swagger that couldn’t be found anywhere else in the conference. Surely, head coach Tricia Fabbri’s team will come out firing like they have all month.


That was not the case.


The Bobcats were dull from the opening tip. A Niagara press that was applied all game got the best of graduate student guard Rose Caverly. It’s important to note that the team had been preparing for this very press all week.


Quinnipiac would end up losing their first game since Jan. 14, that’s more than a month. There are some concerns for this Quinnipiac team but also many things to take away from tonight’s performance.


A team nearly winning a game in which they had a seven-minute scoring drought and turned the ball over 30 times can be seen as a positive. Senior guard Makenzie Helms seemed to be Fabbri’s go-to for breaking the press, which she did with confidence.


Games like these are what championship teams need. This loss stung, you could see on the faces of the coaches and the players after the game, but there was something to gain from the loss.


“The games we lose we just learn,” said senior forward Cur’tiera Haywood. “Coach said we either win or we learn so we are going to learn from this and try and keep moving forward.”


37-point victories against Canisius are great for the locker room and a confidence boost, but there is nothing to learn from that. This team isn’t perfect, no team in this conference is close to it but each and every game throughout this recent stretch is critical to have that extra edge in a close March contest.


The one thing that the Bobcats have going for them is depth. Along with Helms coming off the bench are Mary Baskerville, Grace LaBarge, and Ella O’Donnell. Fabbri can go to any backup position and feel comfortable knowing that the product on the court is not going to slip.


“That’s why we have won ten games in a row and why it was almost 11,” said Fabbri. “I think we have incredible depth and we’ve got great talent. It’s got to continue to work together.”


Thursday, the shots were just not falling for the Bobcats. Niagara had 76 field goal attempts compared to Quinnipiac’s 46. That figure alone tells the story of the game.


When looking at the conference tournament, it’s hard to hate Quinnipiac’s chances at making a semi-final. All four of the Bobcat’s losses have come against Niagara and Iona. Currently, both sitting at the number three and number one seed. The Bobcats split them at the number two seed.


Quinnipiac has not proven they can beat the best teams in this conference. The old saying goes “It’s hard to beat a team three times.” That could prove true especially with Fabbri’s squad finally hitting their stride against Niagara’s press with a fourth-quarter run. But, if the team crumbles offensively like they did tonight, the Bobcats are going to have to pack their bags early.


“They (Niagara) definitely disrupted us all night,” said Fabbri. “But with that said, we settled in for the last 14 minutes of a 20-minute third and fourth quarter and had a couple of good looks.”


If they are lucky enough to advance to the championship, it’s likely they are going to have to see the Gaels.


Iona is a different animal. They haven’t lost since Dec. 19.


Quinnipiac lost by three and five points in the two separate matchups. In both games, the Bobcats shot at a below-average rate but bunkered down on the defensive end to keep it close. On a positive note, if the Bobcats could shoot well and keep Iona settled, it’s not ridiculous to see an upset.


Tricia Fabbri is going to have to get her team to play a near-perfect 40 minutes to beat both of these teams, but then again that’s what it takes to win a conference championship.


Quinnipiac looks to get some momentum rolling as they travel to take on Siena, who currently sits in the top four in the MAAC. A game that should be prepared for similar to a tournament game because, in a couple of weeks, it will be everyone’s favorite time of the year. March.