Atlantic City is calling the Bobcats: It’s Quinnipiac women’s basketball’s favorite month

Brendan O'Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief

It’s March. Spring is almost here, and the winter weather may finally come to an end — hopefully.

But for the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team, the month represents another chance to cut down the nets at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It’s an enormous moment for teams as they prepare all season for the tournament. It’ll be even more potent since players and coaches haven’t celebrated a MAAC championship since the 2018-19 season.

That’s the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. No celebration, no confetti, no cutting down the net. The teams only played six postseason games last year until MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor canceled the remainder of the tournament.

And unfortunately, the pandemic hasn’t receded. But the difference between this year and last is the information we have on the virus itself. Testing protocols are in place, and vaccines continue to roll out throughout the country.

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team is currently the No. 2 seed in the MAAC standings. (Morgan Tencza (2019))

With that knowledge, the tournament is on, and it’s far more likely a champion is crowned this year. Players and coaches will have their shining moment — climbing the ladder to cut off the nylon as they celebrate with their team.

It’s a familiar scene for the Bobcats. Since joining the MAAC prior to the 2013-14 season, Quinnipiac has played in all six conference championships, winning four. In fact, it has won the last three MAAC tournaments — excluding the unfinished 2020 tournament, of course.

Entering the 2021 MAAC tournament, the Bobcats could claim their fifth MAAC title — a feat only Marist has accomplished this century. But while the championship is still in mind, Quinnipiac will be playing just its first game since 2019.

Last year, Fairfield and Siena played the sixth tournament game, and Quinnipiac was set to play Manhattan just after. Obviously, they didn’t, and the tournament was curtailed with the two schools’ names on the scoreboard.

This year, the Bobcats hope to see their name on the scoreboard at the end of the tournament again — this time, though, with a trophy in their hands.

Head coach Tricia Fabbri leads Quinnipiac’s charge as she completes her 26th season at the helm of the program. She’s eyeing her sixth tournament title after winning the 2013 NEC tournament — the same year she won NEC Coach of the Year.

Morgan Tencza (2020)

Furthermore, she’s maintained a formidable roster throughout her tenure, no matter which player leads the on-court charge.

In the 2020-21 season, those players have been junior guards Mackenzie DeWees and Rose Caverly and sophomore forward Mikala Morris.

Morris leads the team in points per game with 13.6 a game, DeWees adds 13 PPG and Caverly averages 10.4 PPG. Together, the three — who have started all 20 games — combine for 37 PPG of the team’s 64.2. Add in junior guard Amani Free’s 8.3 PPG and the total rises to 45.3.

DeWees’ offensive output has been impressive to say the least. She scores her 13 PPG on a team-high 50% from the field. Additionally, she drains 3-pointers at a 36% clip. Then, add in her 2.6 assists per game which is second to Caverly’s team-high 4.8 APG.

By way of the aforementioned four, Quinnipiac tops the MAAC with 64.2 PPG. However, it’s not just its offense that makes the team so potent on the floor. The defense is what stands out. Quinnipiac ranks fifth in the MAAC and 38th in the NCAA with just 57.9 PPG allowed, at time of publication.

Once again, DeWees and Morris lead the MAAC charts in defensive categories. DeWees averages 2.6 steals per game which is fifth in the MAAC, but her total steals is 52 — second in the MAAC. Morris, on the other hand, averages 1.5 SPG, 10th in the MAAC.

In terms of blocks, Morris ranks second in the MAAC with 2.2 blocks per game. She’s tallied 44 total blocks — first in the MAAC.

Lastly and arguably the most prominent aspect of the Bobcats’ 2020-21 team is its rebounding.

Morris tops the MAAC chart, averaging 10.8 rebounds per game and totaling 215 boards — the only player in the conference above 200. Furthermore, Quinnipiac as a whole leads the MAAC with 41.5 RPG.

Behind Fabbri’s leadership and the team’s on-court abilities, the Bobcats finished the season with a 13-7 record, second in the MAAC.

Quinnipiac topping the MAAC statistical charts and standings is nothing new, and it’s evident through the 2020-21 regular season. Nevertheless, the Bobcats’ journey to capture their fifth MAAC title is still en route.