Mikala Morris registers third straight double-double in Quinnipiac women’s basketball’s big win over Canisius


Peyton McKenzie

Junior forward Mikala Morris secured her ninth double-double of the season during Monday’s win over Canisius.

Riley Millette, Sports Editor

The Canisius Golden Griffins entered the People’s United Center 3-18 and 1-11 in MAAC play. The Bobcats, two days after Monmouth snapped their five-game win streak, had senior guard Mackenzie DeWees and junior forward Cur’Tiera Haywood return to the lineup after missing games.

And the kicker: Canisius was 0-17 in its history against Quinnipiac. So yeah, the 76-55 win for the Bobcats wasn’t surprising.

The Bobcats (14-8 overall, 9-4 MAAC) did not play down to their opponent, cruising to a 34-15 lead at halftime on the back of DeWees (19 points), junior forward Mikala Morris (22 points, 10 rebounds) and senior guard Amani Free (nine points).

Free is in the middle of a career stretch, although Canisius broke her streak of scoring 10+ points at six consecutive games. Entering the starting lineup on Jan. 17 against Saint Peter’s and continuing to dominate, her efficient shooting (44% FG% since Jan. 17) has been a significant reason for the Bobcats’ great play.

Early in the game, the differences in philosophy for either coach were apparent. Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri yelled “move the ball” on offense, while Canisius head coach Sahar Nusseibeh yelled “shoot the ball.”

Quinnipiac creates its offense with quick ball movement along the perimeter mixed with feeds inside the paint to Morris and DeWees. The space that motion conjures allows shooters like Free and junior guard Sajada Bonner open looks from the outside, with the option to pass inside the post.

“They play so free (on offense), and it was just nice to see them have that mindset today to really find each other and what we’re looking for,” Fabbri said.

Canisius’ game plan was to create open lanes and shooting space with screens and misdirection, especially around the perimeter. The Bobcats must have gotten sick of yelling “switch” so often during every possession.

But their intensity proved the difference. DeWees’ perimeter movement to close down shooters was effective, as Canisius didn’t make any of its first six 3-pointers. Bonner was also a crucial energizer for the defense, acting as the loose ball hunter and the lockdown defender.

Stopping Canisius sophomore guard Dani Haskell was clearly a point of emphasis for the Bobcats. When she wasn’t double-teamed in the post, she was covered by Bonner.

“If you’re talking about a kid who’s going to be a glove for us, sets the tone defensively, it’s (Bonner),” Fabbri said. “She’s gonna get the best offensive assignments. She’s been unrelenting, loves to play defense, wants the assignment of the best offensive player.”

In the second half, the Bobcats showed their best ball. DeWees and Morris ran circles around the Canisius defense. When one drew a double-team, they would find the other. And yes, even though DeWees is one of the shorter players on the team at 5 feet, 9 inches, she saw plenty of double teams underneath.

“We knew that the post was very undersized compared to the rest of us,” Morris said. “So we were trying to work inside out. And luckily today I was hot and then when I would get double-teamed, I would just kick it out.”

The Bobcats are recovering from an unforgiving stretch of the schedule in which they had to play five games in 12 days, including the infamously long trip to Buffalo on Jan. 27, to play Canisius.

“Those have been some tough games for us,” DeWees said. “Every game is such a tough game with how leveled out the MAAC is right now.”

The Bobcats will rest tomorrow. It’s their first day off in eight days, which Morris said with a smile. The team’s next game is Senior Day, a home date with 7-10 Iona (5-7 MAAC) on Saturday at 2 p.m.