‘We know what we want to do’: Women’s basketball looks to win fifth MAAC Championship


Peyton McKenzie

Quinnipiac women’s basketball will play No. 6 Manhattan in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament.

Benjamin Yeargin, Associate Sports Editor

Raleigh, North Carolina, Bloomington, Indiana and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania were the first three road destinations for the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team this season. With all their travels throughout the country, the Bobcats hope that their best stop of the season is Atlantic City, New Jersey for the MAAC tournament.

How They Got Here

Quinnipiac started off the season embarking on a nine game out-of-conference slate which featured marquee matchups against No. 3 Indiana and then-No. 10 NC State.

Throughout the year, the Bobcats’ most consistent players remained the same: senior forwards All-MAAC Third Teamer Cur’Tiera Haywood and All-MAAC Second Teamer Mikala Morris, and sophomore guard Jackie Grisdale. In non-conference play, the trio averaged 10.5 points per game. They would end the season first, second and third on the team in points per game with Haywood at one, Grisdale at two and Morris at three.

Graduate student guard Rose Caverly, who acts as the team’s floor general, has led the Bobcats’ offense and solidified it as second in the conference, averaging 62.1 points per game as a team. Also, it’s worth noting that Caverly is currently 23 points away from 1,000 on her col- legiate career.

In the first month of MAAC play, Quinnipiac finished 4-3 with losses to eventual No. 1 and No. 2 in the MAAC Iona and Niagara.

“We didn’t necessarily hit a flow until January,” Fabbri said on March 4. “We were evolving and trying to figure out who we were becoming.”

It continued to pick up wins against everyone else, highlighted by Morris reaching the 1,000-point mark Dec. 31 against Mount St. Mary’s.

For the next month of MAAC hoops, the Bobcats couldn’t lose. The return of graduate student guard Mackenzie DeWees propelled Quinnipiac to a 10-game win streak that would last until Feb. 23 against Niagara.

During that win streak, the Bobcats saw graduate student forward Mary Baskerville and sophomore forward Grace LaBarge both emerge as go-to options off the bench. From Jan. 28 to Feb. 4, Baskerville recorded three-straight double-doubles, putting up an average of 12.7 ppg and 14 rebounds per game.

“She’s stupendous,” Fabbri said on Feb. 25. “She can do things out on the basketball court, make plays look easy … she really commands a lot of presence.”

LaBarge brought a physical presence on and off the ball and a reliable three-point stroke to the table during the win streak, leading the team in three-point percentage amongst players with significant minutes.

How Quinnipiac played during the win streak captures what the team is capable of doing when it’s firing on all cylinders. The Bobcats are aggressive, gritty, resilient, move the ball around superbly and get to the free-throw line.

“(Grit) is probably the number one core value for our team,” LaBarge said on Feb. 11.

Quinnipiac closed the season with two wins against the respective No. 4 and No. 5 MAAC seeded Siena and Fairfield, but lost an integral piece in the process.

What They May Lose

Quinnipiac could be without two key players, Morris and LaBarge, who both did not suit up Saturday against Fairfield after injuries sustained Feb. 25 at Siena. However, LaBarge practiced Monday with the rest of the team.

The subtraction of Morris would remove a key post-presence the Bobcats need to compete against teams like Iona and Niagara, who finished one and two ahead of Quinnipiac in the conference. Morris leads the team with 40 blocks and can easily match up with a big like Iona senior forward Ketsia Athias.

If both are out for the tournament, expect players like Baskerville, freshman forward Ella O’Donnell, who was named to the 2023 All- MAAC Rookie Team and junior forward Tiera White all to take on bigger roles.

“When you have that depth, and you have players that are ready to participate and be productive, it bodes well for us,” Fabbri said on March 4.

Baskerville would slide right into the starting lineup with O’Donnell becoming a sixth or seventh man and White joining the rotation all together.

Final Thoughts

The Bobcats have succeeded against every conference opponent except aforementioned Iona and Niagara. Siena, Fairfield and Rider have all given the Bobcats a run for their money, but Quinnipiac prevailed.

With the injury to Morris, the whole team needs to carry their slack, specifically senior guard Makenzie Helms. Helms leads the Bobcats second shift and would be the general while Baskerville and O’Donnell are out there. The Nebraska transfer has played great minutes for Quinnipiac, but her best needs to come in Atlantic City.

“Helms has done a great job with the minutes she’s had,” DeWees said on Feb. 4. “She’s kept everybody together and in tempo and she’ll continue to do that for the rest of the season.”

A fully healthy Bobcats team can match up against any conference opponent and compete at the least, win at best.

Quinnipiac will play Manhattan – who beat the Bobcats in the MAAC tournament last year – with Quinnipiac going 2-0 against the Jaspers this season. It’s fair to say that the Bobcats could win their tournament opener games and play either Niagara or Rider in the semifinals.

Without Morris, Quinnipiac does have more holes that need to be filled, but a Bobcat team at its best can challenge any team in the MAAC, and could make their way to the championship game.

“The sky’s the limit for us,” Grisdale said on Nov. 14. “We know what we want to do.”

The MAAC Tournament started on Tuesday, but Quinnipiac will face No. 6 Manhattan on Thursday, March 9 at 1 p.m.