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Preview: Quinnipiac women’s basketball faces Rider in MAAC semifinal in a championship game rematch


By: Sierra Goodwill

So they meet again.

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team will face the Rider Broncs in the semifinal Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament in what will be a 2017 championship rematch.

However, Rider’s head coach Lynn Milligan doesn’t think her team will enter the game with a chip on their shoulder. The Broncs come in as a 5-seed, as opposed to a 2-seed last year, due to its youth.

“Half of our roster didn’t play in that game,” Milligan said. “It’s the semifinals. The last thing I have to do this weekend is motivate my team. This is what you work for since July. “

Just eight days ago, Quinnipiac comfortably sailed to a 21-point victory over Rider. The recent meeting has allowed the Bobcats to spend less time on scout and more time to prepare for the Broncs’ biggest weapons; like sophomore guard Stella Johnson.

Johnson averages 15.4 points per game, which is good enough for fifth best in the conference. She was also named to the All-MAAC Second Team along with teammate Kamila Hoskova, who isn’t far behind averaging 14.6 points per game.

“That’s the real challenge because I just think Stella is a player who’s got a lot of tools in her toolbox as a sophomore,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “I think we’ve got some good defensive matchups and some good schemes against her. We’ll be well prepared to see her tomorrow.”

When it comes to Rider’s preparations, it’s got a tougher task at hand.

“(Quinnipiac’s) margin of victory this year was 23-point-something, so I’m not sure how many weaknesses they really have,” Milligan said. “They’ve got a great coach, a lot of great players. I think they’re depth is probably their top strength. They just have so many players that are capable of scoring and hurting you.”

Johnson and Hoskova are two players who did experience the sting of a season-ending loss to Quinnipiac one year ago on nearly the same stage. They’re ready for revenge.

“Oh, yeah. We already talk about it in the locker room and we’re very positive about the game tomorrow,” Johnson said. “They beat us twice and we want to beat them. We want to get this championship and show all the doubters that we can do this.”

But for Quinnipiac, this is the same old story.

“Obviously everyone wants to see the number one seed,” Quinnipiac senior guard Carly Fabbri said. “Everyone wants to be the underdog to knock off the big guy. Great. We’re excited to see their best effort, but obviously we’re pretty confident going into this game too.”

The Bobcats are 12-0 against Rider all-time including two regular season wins this season. Quinnipiac is trying for 21-straight wins, including 30-consecutive conference wins dating back to last season.

The semifinal tips off on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. The winner is headed to the MAAC Championship and is 40 minutes away from an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

And we all know what can happen when Quinnipiac goes dancing.

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