Probably the most important thing for any athletic team to have, especially a basketball team, is senior leadership. The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team is no different and they are not lacking in this department by any means. Four players, Ashlee Kelly, Sara Esidore, Katie Kielty and Tara McCaig, will all be leaving Quinnipiac after this season. This is probably the most talented group of seniors to leave the women’s basketball team in recent memory.
The final home game for these four players was Saturday Feb. 21 against Wagner. The Bobcats came away with a 54-49 victory. Kelly recorded yet another double-double, this time scoring a game high 20 points and pulling down 17 rebounds. Down by seven with under four minutes to play, the Bobcats led by Kelly and Esidore, went on a 19-4 run to grab the lead and never look back. Esidore added 11 points for QU. “Senior day was a great moment and it was also very satisfying to walk off Burt Kahn Court for the last time with a win,” Esidore said.
Kelly, the reigning NEC women’s player of the year, is on pace to receive the award for the second straight year.
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Kelly is one of the most accomplished athletes in the history of the University’s athletic program. She ranks fourth all-time in rebounds, with 715, and fifth in free throws made, with 289. Kelly has recorded 34 career double-doubles including 52 double-figures scoring games and 39 double-figures rebounding games. She became on the eleventh women’s basketball player to score 1,000 points when she reached the milestone on February 22, 2003.
As a senior, Kelly is averaging 17.8 points per game, including a 16.9 point per game average in NEC contests; both are team highs. She averages a team high 12.2 rebounds per game. All totaled, Kelly leads the team in seven offensive categories, field goals made (130), field goal percentage (.524), free throws made (150), free throws attempted (193), offensive rebounds (111), total points (410) and points per game (17.8). Along with the seven offensive, she also leads the team in four defensive categories; steals (39), blocks (16), defensive rebounds (173) and rebounds per game average (12.3). “This year has gone by so quickly but has been the best year to date,” Kelly said. “We have the most talented team since I have been here and we all get along like sisters.”
During the 2002-03 season, Kelly was third in the country in rebounds per game (12.2) and was fifteenth in field goal percentage (.581).
Esidore, the team’s second leading scorer (14.0), plays exceptionally well against NEC rivals. Points per game (15.9), rebounds per game (4.1), three point percent (.444), field goal percentage (.438) and minutes per game (30.0) are all higher than her season averages when the Bobcats have squared off against NEC teams in 14 games so far this season.
She will leave Quinnipiac with two records, three pointers made for a career (134) and three pointers made in a season (53). Esidore, a native of Portland, CT, followed Kelly by becoming the twelfth woman to ever score 1,000 points for her career, surpassing the total on March 3 of last season. She is currently twelfth on the all-time scoring list.
Esidore has been named Scholar Athlete twice in her four year career at Quinnipiac, in her sophomore and junior years respectively.
Keilty, a native of Plainview, N.Y., has contributed a solid effort for the Bobcats over her career. This season, she is averaging eight points per game and four rebounds while playing 27.5 minutes per game.
As a junior, Keilty ranked second on the team in scoring (9.0), rebounding (4.9), three point percentage (.320) and three pointers made (31).
McCaig, is averaging 0.9 points per game in limited action this season. Playing in only seven games, she was a perfect four of four from the free throw line and pulled down four rebounds and added one steal. McCaig has saw action in 39 total games in her career after missing her freshman year after red shirting due to an ACL injury.
Over their four years that these four players have been at Quinnipiac, the Bobcats have posted a 63-45 record and are 46-23 in NEC play. The 46 conference victories are tied for the second most over the past four years in the NEC, only St. Francis (PA) had more during that span of time, compiling 51 W’s.
Kelly, Esidore, Keilty and McCaig have combined for 1,087 of the team’s 1,601 total points. They also contributed 466 of the team’s 905 team rebounds. Despite the fact that the four women are contributors to the team’s statistic success, they are also leaders on the floor. Through the 4,600 total minutes played this season, the foursome has registered 2,019 between them.
It is evident that the team will miss the abilities of these four women both on the court and in the locker room. It will be tough to find replacements for the future. Despite the losses however, there is hope for the future. “We have some excellent recruits coming in to fill all the positions, and they will definitely make an impact on the program,” Esidore said. “There is also a very talented junior class who will lead the team to another great season.”