Nine is just fine for women’s basketball

Zach Smart

There’s something special about Tricia Sacca-Fabbri’s 2005-2006 Quinnipiac women’s basketball team. It’s been primarily evident during the Bobcats’ NEC-high nine-game winning streak, the most successful win streak in recent memory.

There’s a certain savvy that this year’s squad carries. They’re playing with a new brand of confidence, along with team chemistry that stretches well beyond the hardwood.

No one could have anticipated the Bobcats being this successful. Not with Krystal Pressley, last year’s star guard, transferring to Division II American International and floor general Kim Fitzpatrick and 3-point assassin Helen Ridley being lost to graduation.

With one of the youngest teams in the program’s 30-year history (the last six of which have been exclusively at the Division I level), the Bobcats are the behemoths amongst the land of the NEC.

Their depth is one of the factors which make them such a headache for opponents. So Monique Lee picks up a few fouls and is yanked from the game. No bruising power forward? No problem. Jackie Harris comes in and holds the post down in her absence. Charmaine Steele, a fifth-year senior, along with Hannalee Pervan and Amber Anderson, can all balance Lee down low.

So the other team reels off a quick spurt to pressure the Bobcats’ lead. Mandy Pennewell comes into the game and drains a pair of shots from downtown to thwart the run and re-cushion their lead.

An influx of high-profile recruits has also vaulted the ‘Cats to the top of the conference this season. Sacca-Fabbri knew since day one that this was a group that would be able to come in and contribute right away.

“I like the way they can put the ball in the basket,” Sacca-Fabbri, the most successful game general in program history, said before the start of the season.

Half of the Bobcats’ top six scorers are freshmen, with Erin Kerner averaging 13.5 points per game to lead the group. Kerner scorched the nets at the DeGol arena in Loretto, Pa. Friday night, erupting for a career-high 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting in am 81-51 massacre of St. Francis (Pa.).

Her 30-point feat marked the first time since Nov. 22, 2004, that a Quinnipiac player scored 30 or more points.

Brianna Rooney, the reigning Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year whose older sister, Megan, played for Sacca-Fabbri, has also turned heads. Rooney scored 10 points, seven of which fueled an early 14-7 run, and handed out a game-high five assists in the St. Francis (Pa.) thrashing.

Quinnipiac improved its record to 17-5, 12-1 in the NEC with wins over St. Francis (N.Y.) and St. Francis (Pa.).

They held off a gritty St. Francis (N.Y.) team, outlasting the Terriers 59-50 on Feb. 6. Kerner led the way with 21 points, while Pennewell and Harris chipped in with 11 and eight, respectively.

The Bobcats trailed early, with the Terriers jumping into the first five minutes of the game with a 13-3 lead.

The Bobcats came roaring back. They got things going as a Harris put-back cut the Terrier lead to five. Kerner then connected on a pull-up jumper from the right side in traffic, before Pennewell pick-pocketed a Terrier and hit Kerner, who kissed a layup off the glass.

The ‘Cats then forced four straight turnovers and took a 22-21 lead after Rooney buried a pull-up jumper in transition and Lee sank a pair of free throws.

The Bobcats kept their distance in the second half. Kathleen Neyens connected on a shot inside the key to extend the Bobcat lead to 54-46 with 3:02 remaining and the Terriers could never close up the gap.

The Bobcats followed this up with the

derailing rout of the Red Flash. A 14-5 surge midway through the second half blew the game open for the Bobcats.

Robert Morris 75, Quinnipiac 70:

Quinnipiac’s nine-game winning streak came to an end Sunday afternoon in Moon Township, Pa., as Robert Morris won 75-70.

The Bobcats, who outscored the Colonials 51-36 in the second half, were led in scoring by Erin Kerner and Monique Lee, who each had 16 points.