Preview: Quinnipiac women’s basketball set to open 2020 MAAC tournament


Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Preview: Quinnipiac vs. Manhattan (2020 MAAC tournament quarterfinals) – Bryan Schwartz and Eric Kerr

Hear from Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri, guard Taylor Herd and forward Paige Warfel on how the team is preparing for Manhattan – Bryan Schwartz

Three Keys to Victory – Kevin Higgins

Right now, there is no player in the MAAC who has won a conference championship besides the ones that reside in Hamden, Connecticut. The Quinnipiac Bobcats women’s basketball team has been on a historic run through the conference, as they’ve won three consecutive MAAC tournaments. This year, though, Tricia Fabbri’s squad finds itself in an unusual position: that of the underdog.

The Bobcats earned the fifth seed in this year’s tournament after finishing 12-8 in conference play, a record that tied them with Fairfield and Manhattan. After securing a first-round bye, Quinnipiac will look to successfully defend their throne atop the conference for a third straight year as they face off against those same Manhattan Jaspers on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. If Quinnipiac wants to advance to the semifinals for a date with top-seeded Rider, they’ll have to successfully do the following three things:

1. Find The Touch From Deep

One of the keys to any deep postseason run is mastering the three ball, and Quinnipiac’s last few seasons have been no exception. Players like Jen Fay, Edel Thornton, and Aryn McClure could be relied on to hit distance shots when needed, but they all graduated after last season. Only Taylor Herd and Shaq Edwards are the true sharpshooter on this year’s team, a fact that is well-known by opposing teams.

When those two face heavy pressure on the perimeter, some of their teammates will need to step it up from beyond the arc. No individual has to light it up or go on a complete tear from three, but timely shot-making will be crucial. The last time these two teams faced off – a 77-62 Manhattan win on Feb. 13 – Quinnipiac was a dismal 4-20 from three, while the Jaspers went 8-16 from distance.

2. Make the Most of Second Chances

When Quinnipiac beat Manhattan by a 70-58 score in their first battle of the year, the Bobcats made the Jaspers pay for not crashing the boards. Quinnipiac won the rebounding battle 56-39, including a 15-12 edge on the offensive glass. The Bobcats turned those rebounds into 11 second chance points, while Manhattan mustered just 2.

In their aforementioned second matchup, Quinnipiac was once again superior in the rebounding department, but it yielded surprisingly worse results. A 41-29 total rebounding advantage and 14-9 lead in offensive rebounds was not enough, and the Jaspers somehow finished with more second chance points than the Bobcats (13-11).

If you put two and two together, it’s not hard to figure out the issue here. Quinnipiac has a significant size and strength advantage over their counterparts, but it has to capitalize on the extra opportunities that Manhattan has given. As previously mentioned, this Bobcats roster isn’t as efficient from the field as in years past, so they’ll need to continue to snatch boards and put away any extra shots they earn in order to win

3. The return of Mikala Morris

The star first-year forward has been a welcome addition to Fabbri’s roster, as her blend of athleticism, strength and size fits perfectly with the Quinnipiac system. Morris has averaged almost a double-double this year at 9.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. However, she has been out with a lower-body injury since Feb. 27.

Don’t be fooled by the team’s 2-1 record during her absence: the Bobcats squeaked out two separate six-point wins against lowly Niagara and cellar-dweller Canisius. And when Quinnipiac played a true MAAC powerhouse without Morris in the Marist Red Foxes, they were dealt a 64-51 loss.

Morris is an essential piece of the puzzle that is the Quinnipiac Bobcats, and without her, they lose a large amount of muscle and skill. Fabbri declared her ready to go for Thursday’s game, and if that’s the case, Quinnipiac will have a big boost going into the tournament. She could very well be the difference between a fourth straight year of cutting down the nets or an early exit.