Women’s basketball defeats Iona in MAAC Championship rematch

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Conor Roche

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The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team (21-6, 14-3 MAAC) defeated the Iona Gaels (15-11, 10-7 MAAC) 53-45 in a rematch of last year’s MAAC championship on Friday evening at Lender Court behind a strong third quarter performance.

The Bobcats came into the second half trailing 22-20 before they went on a 7-0 run to take a 27-24 lead. Adily Martucci, Jen Fay and Aryn McClure all scored on the run. Both teams traded buckets for the rest of the quarter, with the Bobcats outscoring the Gaels 18-11 in the third and going into the fourth with a 38-33 lead.

“We just came out with more confidence,” McClure said. “We had to get it going. It was a new half, so everything that happened in the first half we had to let escape and just relax.”

The Gaels would challenge the Bobcats to start the fourth quarter going on a 6-0 run to cut the Bobcats lead to 43-41 with 6:25 left. Sarah Shewan hit a layup on the next possession and after the Gaels split a pair of free throws, McClure hit a layup to make it 47-42 with 5:01 left. The Gaels would not get back within a single possession for the rest of the game

Martucci, who played all but one minute of the game, led the Bobcats with 14 points.

“[Martucci’s] been so consistent for us from the beginning of the season. I’ve just seen her grow since the beginning of her career,” Bobcats head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and we get to celebrate it on senior day next Saturday. Right now she’s been so consistent and that leader and been clutch for us. And we’re going to need it even more as we’re marching into the madness.”

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McClure pitched in another 13 points.

The Bobcats held the Gaels to 28.8 percent shooting on the night and forced 18 turnovers. The Bobcats held Iona’s Marina Lizarazu, the seventh-leading scorer in the MAAC, to four points on 1-9 shooting.

“This was a team effort,” Martucci said. “My teammates were in their gaps, which definitely helped with the drives. I made sure [Lizarazu] didn’t hit any threes. I think as team, we had great team defense.”

Fabbri says the Bobcats’ defense has performed since the season’s opener.

“The defense has been great all season long and today was no exception,” Fabbri said. “All five of us were in sync defensively so we didn’t have to move off of game plan A which is a thing of beauty.”

The game started out sloppy for both teams, with each the Bobcats committing five turnovers and the Gaels committing six turnovers in the first quarter. The Bobcats continued the sloppy play into the second quarter, shooting 21.4 percent. Iona’s Alexis Lewis was the star of the first half 12 points. Lewis led all players with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Friday’s win moved the Bobcats back into a tie for first place with Rider, who they beat in the season series.

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Friday’s game was also the Play4Kay Game. The game is in honor of former North Carolina State Coach Kay Yow, who passed away of breast cancer in 2009. Fabbri pledged to donate a dollar for every ticket sold to cancer research. The Bobcats also played in the Play4Kay Shootout in Las Vegas earlier this season.

The Bobcats will play their next game at Manhattan on Sunday and before heading to Marist on Thursday. They will close out the season at home next Saturday against Canisius before playing in the MAAC Tournament.