If there was any uncertainty for the Bobcats before their game against North Carolina A&T, it was swept away the second the ball was tipped.
“The nerves were clearly there going into the game,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said on their first bout. “It didn’t look like it once the ball went up.”
Jasmine Martin shot 100 percent from the field on Friday as Quinnipiac defeated the Aggies 77-63 to secure its first win in the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament. She went a perfect 7 for 7 from the field with five of those coming from beyond the arc. The only shot that didn’t go down was a singular free throw as she was 3-of-4 from the stripe.
“Jasmine Martin just led the way,” Fabbri said. “She made everyone breathe a lot easier. Settled right into a real nice offensive and defensive game.”
“I’m just doing what I can do, day in and day out,” Martin said. “If I feel that I need to step up personally, I will. But when my teammates are hitting shots its not about me, its all about the team. If we continue to put the team first, we’ll be fine.”
With Felicia Baron, the team’s leading scorer last season graduated, Martin found herself in a position to step up.
“I knew I wanted to get started early and often,” Martin said on scoring the ball. “Felicia was actually here. She texted me before and said ‘Take over. This is your team now.’ It meant a lot coming from her.”
Martin started the scoring for her team as she went 2-of-2 from deep to start the game. Teammate Samantha Guastella hit another 3-pointer forcing the Aggies to take a timeout with the score at nine to three.
After layups from Aprill McRae and DeAndra Davis to cut the lead to two, Martin exhibited her talents further and went on a personal 8-0 run with two three-pointers and a contested layup in the lane.
From that point on the Bobcats found their touch from deep. Ellen Cannon went 2 for 5 with both makes coming in the first half. Guastella also made her two 3-pointers in the first half shooting 2-of-3 from downtown. Teammates Morgan Manz, Maria Napolitano, and Adily Martucci all found their range over the course of the contest. The team went a total 13-of-26 from deep.
In the second half, the Aggies outscored the Bobcats, but having been down by 46-23 it was not enough to trump the hot shooting on display. The southern visitors started the half on a 9-2 run beginning with a 3-pointer from Tracy King, who led her team with 14 points. After McRae split from the line and Adriana Nazario hit a baseline pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer of her own, the scoring remained even as neither side got off to another big run.
“It was a great experience for our team,” head coach of the Aggies Tarrell Robinson said. “I followed them [Quinnipiac] and heard about them all last year. Given the chance to actually see first-hand the job coach is doing here: it’s excellent.”
Both teams also found themselves in foul trouble early in the second half with referees harping on hand checks. The Aggies were beyond 10 fouls with more than 11 minutes left in the second half and Quinnipiac reached that mark with 9:11 remaining.
It was hard to find a player on the Bobcat roster that had a bad day. In addition to those already mentioned, others really found a positive role in the victory. Nikoline Ostergard showcased her finesse up-and-under moves as she shot 3 for 3 from the field. Camryn Warner got to the line and led the team with seven rebounds. Gillian “Boo” Abshire led the team with six assists.
“I could go right down the line from Cami [Warner], to Ellen, to Brittany, to Boo, to every single player on how much we did improve and stayed hungry for this year,” Fabbri said.
Quinnipiac’s depth showed as 13 of the total 15 players got minutes. Fabbri was able to implement her “gold rush” practice less than five minutes into the game, swapping out a whole lineup of legs for a fresh batch.
One area that could have used improvement for Quinnipiac was the turnovers. Their turnover to assist ratio broke even with 21 in each category. This was mostly a result of guarding the entry passes down low heavily so McQuain and other post players had difficulty finding a rhythm. Thankfully for the Bobcats, their marksmanship made up for it.
“They did a great job of fronting the post and clogging it up for us so we couldn’t enter the ball,” Fabbri said on the A&T strategy. “But what we did a real nice job of was seeing that we couldn’t make that post entry, skip, and make the extra pass for the wide open three.”
With this win, Quinnipiac plays the winner of the game between Loyola Chicago and No. 5 Louisville. The potential to play a top talent is less on the team’s mind as is simply moving on.
“Regardless of who that opponent is, we are excited to advance in this tournament,” Fabbri said. “Whether that team is Louisville or Loyola Chicago, we’re going to be excited because we are advancing in the tournament.”