MAAC scoring leader Lou Lopez-Senechal leads Fairfield with a 26-point performance to give Quinnipiac women’s basketball its first conference loss

Toyloy Brown III, Managing Editor

Quinnipiac’s home contest against Fairfield featured two of the MAAC’s finest.

In Fairfield’s corner was arguably the conference’s best offensive player in senior forward Lou Lopez-Senechal who leads the MAAC in scoring with 18.2 points per game. In Quinnipiac’s corner was perhaps the conference’s best perimeter defender in Mackenzie DeWees who entered the night second in the nation in steals per game (4.2).

The Stags (5-5, 2-0 MAAC), led by their offensive juggernaut, came out victorious against the Bobcats (6-5, 1-1 MAAC), winning 66-62. This was both teams’ second MAAC contest and Quinnipiac’s first Division I home loss against the Stags in program history.

Quinnipiac knew that to defeat Fairfield, it had to make scoring difficult for Lopez-Senechal, who was voted conference preseason player of the year. But the Bobcats’ defense did not make scoring hard enough for the 6-foot-1 forward. The Grenoble, France, native dropped 26 points, her third-highest scoring game this season, on 10-of-23 shooting along with five free throws.

Quinnipiac designated last year’s MAAC Player of the Year DeWees as the primary defender on Lopez-Senechal. DeWees, who finished with a team-high 14 points and two steals, showed great effort throughout, staying attached to the Stag’s leading scorer in screening actions for the most part.

However, guarding a scorer of Lopez-Senechal’s caliber is not a solo job. To keep the conference’s top scorer in check, the Bobcats needed a team effort fortified by defensive communication such as signaling for switches or hedges. Quinnipiac’s team defense had its moments, but it was unable to limit the scoring of Lopez-Senechal who had 11 points in the final period.

In the first quarter, the Bobcats came out slow offensively. Their starters were a combined 2 for 10 from the field, finishing with only five of the team’s 13 points.

Twice in the first half Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri substituted all five players on the court. Due to the lack of scoring her starters could muster, she played 13 players before the seven-minute mark in the second quarter.. The bench outscored the starters in the first half, putting up 14 of the team’s 27 points.

The brightest spot up to this point for the Bobcats was sixth-man junior wing Sajada Bonner who led the team with six points off of two 3-pointers after the half. She ended with 12 points and showed why she is leading the MAAC in 3-point field goal percentage (50%), going four of seven from 3-point range.

While Quinnipiac played better after the rough start, the Stags had a strong second quarter, putting up 19 points on 53.3% shooting with only one turnover. Fairfield had a seven-point lead going into halftime.

Outside of Lopez-Senechal showcasing her bag of tricks offensively with aggressive forays to the hoop, mid-range pull-ups and a killer step-back jumper, the Stags’ had two other players score in double figures. Graduate student guard Sydney Lowery finished with the only double-double of the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds and senior forward Andrea Hernangomez ended with 11 points and nine rebounds.

The final two periods for the Bobcats were their best in the game. The third quarter showcased a more connected team defensively that only gave up 10 points to the Stags. Quinnipiac also had an easier time scoring two-pointers, getting junior center Mikala Morris, who finished with eight points and six rebounds, more involved as well as DeWees who had a nifty backward scoop lay-up to make the score 44-42 in Fairfield’s favor at the end of the quarter.

The closest Quinnipiac came was a tie at 44 early in the final period, but it was unable to ever capture a lead.

There are a few silver linings from this Quinnipiac defeat. The Bobcats played more cohesively in the second half when they could have given in earlier when the Stags kept a lead due to a few scoring runs. Additionally, they outscored the Stags 35-32 in the last 20 minutes of the game.

Quinnipiac had also unleashed its bench. When the starters experienced a drought on the offensive end, the Bobcats relied on their depth. The reserves gave big-minute players a breather and successfully kept the team within striking distance throughout the contest — outscoring the Stags bench by 20 points.

While the Bobcats entered the outing leading the MAAC both with the best overall record and the highest scoring margin (7.6 points per game). This first conference loss of the season was an early reminder that they will be tested this season and that the conference crown is up for grabs. This defeat may be beneficial for Quinnipiac in the long run as it stays focused on playing strong from start to finish instead of only the second half.

Quinnipiac’s next game comes after Christmas on Dec. 30, at Saint Peter’s (4-6, 2-0 MAAC).