The Quinnipiac’s women’s basketball team would not be denied last Saturday, not at home, not on senior day.
The Bobcats avenged their only conference loss of the season with a 59-48 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers.
The key NEC win was amplified because it was the celebration of the five graduating seniors.
“It’s always special to win on senior night,” Quinnipiac women’s basketball head coach Tricia Fabbri said.
Bobcat seniors Sofia Kyritsis, Amber Anderson, Nicole Duperron, Monique Lee and Hannalee Pervan were recognized, as well as student athletic trainer Lucy Shaw.
Clearly, the Bobcat underclassmen wanted to notch a win for their seniors.
“We really wanted to get it for them, to go out with a game beating Sacred Heart,” junior guard Erin Kerner said.
Senior day proved especially important for senior forward Nicole Duperron, who is from Fort St. John, B.C. According to Fabbri, the Duperron family came a long way to see her play.
They watched as their daughter put up 13 points and snatched 13 rebounds. More importantly Duperron was instrumental in shutting down Pioneer junior center Kaitlin Sowinski.
Sowinski is the Pioneers leading scorer, and fifth in the nation in blocks. She posted a career high 33 points against Quinnipiac on Jan. 26.
“We just had to figure out a way to shut her down,” Fabbri said.
This time, Quinnipiac refused to allow the six-foot-four Sowinski take over the paint.
“We really needed to limit her touches as well as contain the guards,” junior guard Mandy Pennewell said.
A swarming Bobcat defense held Sowinski to just 12 points, satisfying Fabbri. “What you saw was a stifling defensive performance on her.”
Quinnipiac (22-3, 14-1 NEC) had fallen behind 17-10 with 12:21 left in the first half. However, the Bobcats never trailed after a Pennewell jumper tied it at 19 just under five minutes later.
Quinnipiac led 27-24 at the half, but a quick three by Pioneer freshman guard Maggie Cosgrove tied it at 27 after the first possession. Cosgrove is the younger sister of the Quinnipiac men’s basketball sophomore guard Casey Cosgrove.
Quinnipiac inched ahead for the rest of the second half. They missed chances to break it open, but dominated the Pioneers on defense.
Sacred Heart (18-9, 13-3 NEC) shot just 23.9 percent from the floor, and the Bobcats also held the advantage in rebounding, 53-39.
Fabbri complemented her team on their strong rebounding. “I think rebounding is such an individual will.”
A pair of jump shots from Pennewell and Kerner extended the Bobcats lead to 52-43 with 3:40 left. Sacred Heart never threatened again.
The Bobcats were led by Pennewell and Kerner who scored 17 points each, while Duperron’s 13 rebounds led both teams.
Freshman guard Alisa Apo led Sacred Heart with 16 points.
In addition to holding down Sowinski, Quinnipiac neutralized junior guard Stephanie Ryan. Ryan scored just three points, well below her season average of 12.
The win fortifies Quinnipiac’s hold on the top spot in the NEC.
If Quinnipiac wins their final three games against Monmouth, Wagner, and Central Connecticut, the Bobcats will earn the top seed in the NEC tournament. The winner of the NEC Tournament will travel to the NCAA tournament.
“I’m happy that we’re 22-3 and we’re doing things the right way,” Fabbri said.