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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Martin’s 20-point night, LaBarge’s game winner propel Bobcats to 60-57 win over Rider

Michael LaRocca
Quinnipiac freshman guard Paige Girardi (left) drives for a layup against Rider on Dec. 18, 2023.

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — Behind a stellar night from freshman guard Karson Martin and a game-winning 3-pointer from junior forward Grace LaBarge, Quinnipiac women’s basketball spoiled Rider’s Hoop for the Holidays night by a score of 60-57. 

The main headline heading into this opening MAAC matchup for the Bobcats was the absence of junior captain Jackie Grisdale, who was confirmed inactive for undisclosed reasons before tip-off.

“There’s going to be an announcement coming,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said when discussing Grisdale’s inactivity. No further comment has been given. 

Grisdale was however leading the team throughout warmups and while on the bench in a coach-like fashion.

Quinnipiac junior captain Jackie Grisdale (third from right), looks on as her team faces off against Rider on Dec. 18, 2023. (Michael LaRocca)

“She’s so well respected off the court,” Fabbri said. “She’s just now filling in a role as a coach. It’s natural to her. She’s not out there sweating, but she’s out there leading and giving as much as she can in a role that’s not having her out there on the court with us.”

Fabbri started a lineup of five underclassmen, four freshmen and one sophomore against a Rider squad that does not even have five underclassmen on its roster. It has three, all freshmen.

An older team tends to have more experience, which can lead to wins. In this case, Quinnipiac bucked the trend. 

Throughout the first quarter, buckets were hard to come by for each side, with the Bobcats and the Broncs combining to shoot 9-31 from the field during the game’s first 10 minutes. 

The tough sledding on offense leaked a bit into the second quarter. However, Quinnipiac outscored Rider 16-6 over the final 5:51 of the half, sparked by timely baskets from Bobcat guards, sophomore Bri Bowen and freshman Maria Kealy, as well as Martin and LaBarge. 

The 30-19 lead that the Bobcats built during the second quarter proved crucial to their success, as that was the only quarter in which Quinnipiac outscored the Broncs.

Martin eventually stole the show over the final 20 minutes of regulation. She scored 14 second-half points to put her at 20 for the contest, barely exceeding her points per game average (19.7) during her senior season at Woodstock High School in Georgia. 

“(Martin) plays like a veteran and what I really love about her is how she plays the game,” Fabbri said. “She’s relentless. She hunts shots and she plays great defense. There’s going to be more good things to come from her.”

Martin did indeed ball out on defense. She held Preseason All-MAAC Second Team guard Makayla Firebaugh to two points from the field on 1-8 shooting as her primary defender. 

“(Firebaugh)’s a fantastic player,” Martin said. “Our scouting report said that she was one of their best players … It was a challenge all game. My legs were very, very tired. But, she’s a fantastic player and I love her game.”

Amidst all of her scoring, Martin notched only one assist during the second half, coming on the game’s biggest shot. 

After playing from behind all game long, the Broncs furiously galloped back to tie the game at 56 with just 48 seconds left in regulation. That was as close as it ever got for Rider. 

Martin dribbled the ball up the court. Thirty seconds left. She drives left. Twenty-five seconds. She puts up a three. No good. Bowen gets the rebound. Fresh shot clock. Twenty-two seconds. Bowen kicks it out to Kealy. Kealy hands it back to Martin. Down to 10 seconds. Martin drives right off the Bowen screen. She kicks it out to a wide-open LaBarge. She puts up the left-handed shot. The ball falls halfway down the hoop, spins back up, bounces softly off the backboard and falls gently through. The Bobcats lead 59-56 with 5.9 seconds to go. 

Quinnipiac never relented. After a give-and-go foul party, Rider put the ball in Firebaugh’s hands for the final shot. It bounced off the front iron and the Bobcats held on 60-57. 

The final buzzer rang in Fabbri’s 10th victory in Rider’s Alumni Gym since Quinnipiac joined the MAAC in 2013. Her key to success is not too complicated.

“Having really good players and a really great coaching staff,” Fabbri said. “We have a really good team. It’s youthful, and we’re learning, but we’re able to find wins through our youth and these close games.”

With the win, Quinnipiac begins MAAC play 1-0 and improves to 4-5 overall before diving into the holiday break. The Bobcats will be back on Dec. 30, when they head down Whitney Avenue to play Yale at 1 p.m.

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Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

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    Papaw MartinDec 19, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Very proud of of great granddaughter we knew she would make a big impact where ever she played