Smith makes an impact on and off court

P.J. Gradowski

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team is off to their best Division I start ever. The team is led by two-star juniors Ashlee Kelly and Sara Esidore. But this season has also seen the emergence of sophomore Shrita Smith.

The 5’8 guard played sparingly her freshman year getting in 22 games but only averaging 4.7 minutes of playing time.

“It was definitely an adjustment for her,” coach Tricia Sacca-Fabbri said. “But she continued to work hard and was our most improved player in the pre-season”.

This season Smith has already appeared in 18 games, starting four of them, and averaging 15 minutes a game. She has already eclipsed her career highs in points with 14. Last year she only attempted 32 shots, hitting nine of them but this season she is 36 for 83 including four from seven from behind the three-point arc.

Earlier this season Smith showed what she could do, hitting all four of her shots she finished with nine points against Hartford.

Then in a pivotal game versus interstate rival Sacred Heart, Smith had her first true break out game going six of seven from the field, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Versus Robert Morris she had 14 points and six rebounds, along with three assists and two steals.

“Everyone always focuses on Ash and Sara,” Smith said. “I know that this team needed a third scorer to get the pressure off of them and I know I can do that.”

In a game against Farleigh Dickinson she also proved she can take the pressure as well, as she hit the winning free throw with only six seconds left on the shot clock.

She followed that performance with a ten-point, two-assist victory over Monmouth and a 13-point, three-rebound performance in the Bobcats win over Long Island.

Smith played her high school ball at Union Catholic in Hillsdale, N.J., where she was a four-year letter winner and where she helped lead her team to the Union County Championship her freshman and senior year. Head coach Sacca-Fabbri discovered Smith after watching her play in the Eastern Invitational.

“She was from a very established program there with a good coach,” Sacca-Fabbri said. “Just after seeing her and then talking to her I could tell that she was just a quality person who I wanted to get on this team.”

At the Invitational Sacca-Fabbri was able to see the athletic ability Smith had as well as her ability to defend, especially on the ball.

While everyone sees her ability on the court, it is off the court where she is most proud. Smith is a Biochemistry major who plans to attend medical school after Quinnipiac. She sometimes has to miss parts of practices to attend science classes and labs.

“I have goals that I have set for myself,” Smith said. “I love basketball but I also know that it will end after my four years here, so I have to plan for the future.”

Smith no doubt contributes to the 3.364 GPA the women’s team had the first semester, which led all teams in that category.

“She has a very demanding major, but definitely does epitomize the definition of a student athlete,” Sacca-Fabbri said. “You can tell just by talking to her what a smart and soft-spoken lady she is.”

The women are 12-6, 8-1 in the NEC but to Smith the season is far from over and far from where they want to be.

“Our goals have not changed since the start,” Smith said. “We still want to win the Northeast Conference championship and get into the NCAA tournament.”

Smith and the rest of the Bobcats travelled to Central Connecticut State on Feb. 5 and will face UMBC this Saturday in a televised game.