Women’s basketball falls to Iona in MAAC championship

Women’s basketball falls to Iona in MAAC championship

Tyrell Walden-Martin

The stage was set for Quinnipiac women’s basketball to secure a trip to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years. The Bobcats were riding a 19-game win streak, and were playing a team that they had beaten twice during the regular season.

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But Quinnipiac came up short, falling to Iona 57-41 on Sunday afternoon at the Times Union Center in Albany. The loss snaps ends the Bobcats’ bid for a second NCAA Tournament in as many years.

Quinnipiac was forced to play without senior captain and leading scorer Maria Napolitano, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the tournament’s semifinal win against Monmouth.

Napolitano’s absence crippled the Bobcats, as they amassed their lowest point all season and shot just 30 percent from the field.

“She has been our leading scorer, she’s been our rock all year for us,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “We were able to rally around her not being in the game and find a way to win that one [against Monmouth]. It was tough not to have her in uniform for the biggest game in the season and for the championship game.”

Quinnipiac struggled going into halftime, as it scored only eight points in the second quarter and allowed Iona to close the half on a 14-4 run, making it 29-19.

Carly Fabbri started the second half off with a three-pointer, which cut the Bobcats’ deficit to seven, but Iona responded with a quick 6-0 run to put Quinnipiac down 13.

However, the Bobcats answered back with a 10-1 run of their own over the next 2:36 to cut the deficit down to four points, forcing an Iona timeout.

During the run, redshirt junior Adily Martucci hit two three-pointers. Martucci, who started in place of Napolitano, scored 10 of her team-high 12 points in the second half.

“[Martucci] brought us back and gave us life,” Tricia Fabbri said. “She stepped up in absence of Maria, but she has been there all season long. When we were struggling to find any type of rhythm offensively, Adily provided it and gave this team hope. She is the one who put us on her back and gave us belief today.”

“We were down 10 at half, we all believed that we were going to come back and win this game,” Carly Fabbri said. “I thought the three-pointer would get momentum going and it did. Adily hit some key shots, we got down four and I thought it was going to be the turning point.”

But Quinnipiac did not score a single point in 7:05 of game action following Martucci’s 3-pointer. Iona went on an 8-0 run, which wasn’t snapped until Quinnipiac forward Sarah Shewan finished a layup to make it 44-34 with 7:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The closest the Bobcats would get within was eight points before another dry spell from the court plagued Quinnipiac, this time for 4:47. Iona went on a 9-0 run, pushing the game out of reach.

Despite the loss, Tricia Fabbri was proud of the way her inexperienced team battled this season.

“Adily Martucci and Sarah Shewan are the only players that played in this game last year and this was an entirely new team back in the same spot,” she said. “Having rattled off 19 straight wins is an understatement with their achievement that they made this year. It was from baby steps to a league champion and it’s been incredible to watch them develop and grow.”

Carly Fabbri was disappointed in the loss, but knows it will fuel next year’s team.

“The first thing I thought about in the locker room was how much I wanted our names to be called when they were calling out Iona players to cut the net,” Carly said. “I am jealous, I wanted to be out there. We are going to remember this moment and I guarantee you will see us back here with a different outcome.”

Even though the Bobcats lost, they aren’t looking toward next year just yet.

“We still have an opportunity to make history with this team. This team hasn’t won a postseason game yet,” Tricia Fabbri said said. “We are not going to be playing in the NCAA tournament but we will be in the NIT having won the regular season championship. We are going forward with what we still can accomplish right now.”

Quinnipiac will know where it will be seeded for the NIT on Monday, Mar. 14.

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