Let’s dance!

Let%27s+dance%21

Ryan Chichester

[media-credit id=2168 align=”alignright” width=”300″]IMG_4183rgb[/media-credit]

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bobcats faced early adversity through every game of the 2017 MAAC Tournament. The team shot a combined 5-28 from beyond the arc in the first half of the quarterfinals and semifinals, but gritty defense kept the games within arms reach until its shooters caught fire.

When the heavily-favored Bobcats headed into the locker room after the first half of the MAAC Championship with a fragile one-point lead on Rider, there was no panic.

“This is who we have been all year,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said.

Like clockwork, the Bobcats came out firing in the second half. The scoring became much more spread out than relying solely on sophomore Aryn McClure, who was lights out from the floor for the entire game, scoring a career-high 28 points on 8-12 shooting. The rest of the team followed suit in the second half as the Bobcats found their offensive rhythm and pulled away midway through the third quarter en route to a 81-73 victory.

The Broncs were without their most potent offensive weapon in Robin Perkins, who missed the entire tournament due to a foot injury. Once the Bobcats found their shooting stroke in the second half, Rider simply lacked enough offensive weapons to keep pace with a Quinnipiac team that was on a mission to avenge their championship loss a year ago.

[media-credit id=2168 align=”alignright” width=”300″]IMG_4184[/media-credit]

Neutralizing the Broncs’ offensive attack was sophomore Paula Strautmane, who recorded two clutch blocks when the team needed a stop. It may not show up in the stat sheet, but Strautmane and junior forward Sarah Shewan locked down the paint for an entire 40 minutes and helped the Bobcats out-rebound the Broncs 41-30, despite the Broncs having the MAAC’s top rebounder in Julia Duggan.

Duggan was able to pile up 23 points for the day, many late in the fourth quarter as Rider tried for one last comeback attempt. Its strong effort came up short as the Bobcats’ defense dug deep and made multiple key stops late in the game before sealing the deal at the free throw line.

Senior Adily Martucci and redshirt sophomore Jen Fay each chipped in 16 points in the winning effort. Martucci was later named Tournament MVP for her timely scoring and lockdown defense. An emotional Martucci was grateful for the moment, but recognized that there was still work to be done this season.

“This one ranks at the top,” Martucci said of this year’s championship. “But we’re not done yet. We’re trying to make history.”

The Bobcats’ run at history will continue on March 17 when the first round of the NCAA Tournament begins. Their opponent and the location of their opening game will be revealed on Monday, March 13.