Quinnipiac women’s basketball continues its dominant defensive run with 70-49 win over Siena


Peyton McKenzie

The Bobcats have not allowed more than 60 points since Feb. 5 against Monmouth.

Riley Millette, Sports Editor

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team has not allowed more than 60 points since Feb. 5 against Monmouth. Its defense has settled into a comfortable groove and not budged, even against solid teams like Niagara and top-tier teams like Fairfield.

At halftime during the Bobcats’ 70-49 win over the Siena Saints, 24 of Quinnipiac’s 35 points were in the paint. Senior guards Amani Free and Mackenzie DeWees led Quinnipiac’s scoring attack in the first half through efficient backdoor cuts and underneath scoring.

Siena had an abysmal four points in the paint at halftime.

Saints graduate student forward Selena Philoxy, who is averaging 9.2 points per game this year, couldn’t find an inch of daylight against junior forward Mikala Morris, the reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Siena’s other dangerous scorer, graduate student guard Rayshel Brown, also had trouble finding space. Matched up against junior guard Sajada Bonner for most of the game, Brown finished 5-of-13 from the floor with 11 points. Brown shot just 3-of-10 from the field by halftime.

“(Philoxy and Brown) are really, really dangerous players. Jada and Mik did a great job,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “Up at Siena the first time around, we really made life miserable for them. I thought (the Saints) were able to come off and get into the paint a little bit. But Sajada Bonner did a great job walling up and forcing a lot of missed shots.”

During a media timeout halfway through the third quarter, the shot chart showed just how dominant the Bobcats were on defense.

Siena’s ball-screen scheme wasn’t quick enough to create separation between its shooters and the Quinnipiac defense, which had shut down similar offenses lately. Niagara, which employs a similar offensive style, visited the Bobcats last Saturday and were run out of the building with a 19-point loss.

“Brown playing downhill is really a challenge, a lot like (Niagara junior guard Angel) Parker,” Fabbri said.

Quinnipiac showed that it’s more comfortable playing against teams that move their players through screens, forcing defensive switches. The Bobcats are quick to change assignments and don’t let themselves get lost in the confusion, which takes away a lot of the opportunities from teams like Siena and Niagara.

“The coaches really prep us, we watch a lot of film, and we’re very, very smart on the court when it comes to switching and guard-to-guard,” DeWees said. “I think there’s just so much communication between the guards that allow us to stay in front of Rayshel Brown, and then the bigs are able to communicate with us to go over screens.”

Even though Fabbri said the team “could put on an even better show” offensively, it got contributions from its important offensive pieces. Senior guard Amani Free has heated back up in the last two games after she roared to life with six straight games registering double-digit points last month. She came back down to earth in the middle of February, but has now scored 12 points in her last two games.

Bonner went 2-for-4 from 3-point range and finished with 10 points.

“I just think we’re starting to get a nice little consistency from everybody, and you’re starting to see depth kick in as well,” Fabbri said.

The Bobcats will play their second game of the season against third-place Manhattan, who lost against Fairfield on Saturday. With a win against the Jaspers on Wednesday, the Bobcats would clinch the No. 2 seed in the MAAC tournament, the same slot they held last year.