Quinnipiac upset by Rider in sluggish MAAC tournament performance

Why the Bobcats couldn’t get it going against Rider

Jordan Wolff, Staff Writer

Three consecutive MAAC titles — winning five in the last eight seasons — and five NCAA tournament appearances are a couple of reasons why No. 2 Quinnipiac women’s basketball is considered a juggernaut by fellow MAAC peers. However, Quinnipiac’s reputation didn’t matter during Wednesday’s first round matchup against No. 7 Rider.

Rider defeated Quinnipiac 62-50, advancing to the semifinals against the winner of Saint Peter’s and Iona.

2020-21 MAAC Player of the Year Mackenzie DeWees was held to two points in Wednesday’s loss to Rider. (Morgan Tencza)

This isn’t a feeling this team is used to, as it’s the first time in program history it has lost in the first round of the MAAC tournament.

“I thought we were very stagnant,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “ I thought we didn’t find the person who was open, but I also thought the person who was open didn’t present themselves easily. We were quiet, and that was uncharacteristic of us offensively.”

In the first quarter, the Bobcats scored 20 points, with six of them coming from junior guard Rose Caverly. However, Quinnipiac didn’t pull away, as Rider freshman forward Raphaela Toussaint scored 10 points in the quarter to make it a 20-17 game.

This is when the bulk of the Bobcats’ struggles began, as they scored just five points in the second quarter. Turnovers were another issue as Quinnipiac had nine at this point. Four of its five second quarter points came from junior forward and MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Mikala Morris.

While Morris finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds, it wasn’t enough to help elevate the Bobcats offensively. By halftime, Quinnipiac trailed Rider 26-25.

One may have considered this to be a first-half slump, but it wasn’t as the team’s offensive struggles carried into the second half. The Bobcats finished this game shooting 29% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc. Rider finished the game shooting 44% from the field.

Furthermore, Rider’s 3-point efficiency was strong. Throughout the season, Rider was at the bottom of the MAAC, shooting 27% from 3-point range. But on Wednesday, it finished the game shooting 50% on 3-pointers.

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team has won five of the last eight MAAC tournaments. (Morgan Tencza)

Morris explained how sometimes, the reputation Quinnipiac built itself can actually be an albatross.

“When teams play us, they play every game like it’s their championship game,” Morris said. “That’s why it’s crucial for us to come out and play lockdown (defense). Tonight, we just couldn’t do it.”

From Rider’s perspective, it played most of this game in a 2-3 zone. It came in handy especially in the fourth quarter, when junior guard Sajada Bonner was called for a travel with 36 seconds left in the game. A few possessions later, the ball bounced off of Caverly’s leg to help secure a Rider victory.

It also helped that the Broncs went on a 9-0 fourth quarter run to help extend their lead.

For Rider head coach Linn Mulligan, the execution of the zone defense was vital for her team to have the success it did.

“Quinnipiac scores, and they can score a lot and they can score quickly,” Milligan said. “They’re a really loaded team, so we knew defensively, we were gonna have to finish as we started. When you’re playing good defense, your offense usually follows. So, most of our offense was based on our defense.”

Another focal point to Quinnipiac’s struggles was the performance of junior guard Mackenzie DeWees. Prior to the game, DeWees was announced as the MAAC Player of the Year. DeWees finished first in the conference in field-goal percentage as well as fourth in steals.

On Wednesday, Rider held DeWees in check, as she finished the game with just two points.

Next season the Bobcats will have most of its roster returning, but the 12-point loss can lead to one of two things for the Bobcats: they can use it as motivation to return next season with a fury, or this is a potential start of a new era at the top of the MAAC.