Second half surge helps Quinnipiac outlast Saint Peter’s

Jordan Wolff, Staff Writer

For the past three years, the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team (13-13 overall, 10-7 MAAC) has been able to control its own destiny atop the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. This season, Quinnipiac has had its ups and downs, including a recent two-game losing skid.

Saint Peter’s (8-19 overall, 5-13 MAAC) took the Bobcats to their limit on Thursday, but ultimately fell short 70-69.

Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri loved how her squad didn’t let a slow first half affect its effort.

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Sophomore guard Mackenzie DeWees leaps into sophomore guard Amani Free’s arms following the conclusion of the game.

“It was a really gritty game, one we needed,” Fabbri said. “Down seven at halftime, I loved our response out of the locker room to go win the fourth quarter.”

The first quarter saw the Peacocks’ shooting dictate the pace of play. They shot 46.7% from the field and 50% from three. The aggressiveness also showed, as both squads combined for nine fouls. The Peacocks committed seven of the nine fouls, but the Bobcats went just 3-for-10 from the free throw line.

Another part of the Peacocks’ first quarter surge was limiting the Bobcats from the 3-point line. The Bobcats didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer which helped the Peacocks extend the lead to 19-13.

The Bobcats shooting started to amp up, while Saint Peter’s’ percentages started to dip. The Bobcats started to find their rhythm, especially from the 3-point line as senior guard Taylor Herd made the Bobcats’ first three 3-point attempts. The Peacocks field goal percentage decreased to 31.5%, but they were still able to keep pace with the Bobcats.

That was largely due to the tandem of redshirt junior guard Taiah Thornton and sophomore guard Briyanah Richardson. Thornton (tied sixth in the MAAC in scoring) and Richardson each made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the second quarter, which helped contribute to a 37-30 halftime lead. Thornton finished with a game-leading 27 points, while Richardson finished with nine points and three rebounds.

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Junior guard Shaq Edwards pushes the pace on a fastbreak, sprinting toward the basket.

Going into the second half, the Bobcats needed their veterans to step it up. Step it up they did, as senior forwards Jaden Ward and Paige Warfel and sophomore guard Mackenzie DeWees all had their moments.

Herd continued to make pivotal 3-pointers, and the Bobcats’ inside presence led to eight points in the paint and seven second chance points. The Bobcats only allowed the Peacocks to attempt two threes. After a four-point outing in her last appearance on the court, Herd knew she had to make adjustments for this game.

“I think this was reassurance that I’m doing my job,” Herd said. “I realized that I was putting too much of the team’s weight on me, and I realized the only way I can be the best me is by contributing from the 3-point line.”

Freshman forward Mikala Morris has gotten all the attention as the two-time reigning MAAC rookie of the week, but it was Ward’s inside presence in the third quarter that helped the Bobcats climb back into the game. She made a few key blocks and finished the game with 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

“We had a little lull on our offense recently and our defense kind of slowed down,” Ward said. “It’s getting to the end of the year and it’s crunch time. We just came out and wanted to win.”

DeWees and Warfel had arguably the two most important moments of the game. There was 2:48 left in regulation and DeWees forced a turnover on defense, then drew a shooting foul on Richardson and still converted the layup for a potential 3-point play.

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Freshman guard Sajada Bonner takes a contested jump shot.

DeWees finished with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, but emphasized the importance of a defensive mentality.

“I really take pride in defense and so does our team,” DeWees said. “So when I got that and-one, it was electric, our bench was crazy, the stands were crazy and it was such a cool moment.”

The game came all the way down to the wire. It was 69-69 and Warfel gained possession, put up a shot and garnered contact to go to the free throw line with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. Her one made free throw turned out to be the final point of the game.

The Bobcats will have to continue to fight, as they are back in action on Saturday in Hamden against the MAAC-leading Marist Red Foxes (22-4 overall, 15-2 MAAC) at 2 p.m.