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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac battles Iona to a hard-fought win, improves to 4-1 in conference play

Zack Hochberg
Freshman guard Ava Sollenne finished with 11 points in her first collegiate start and Quinnipiac’s 70-64 win over Iona.

HAMDEN — At the beginning of the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team’s 70-64 victory over the Iona Gaels Saturday afternoon, the Bobcats were down 10-0.

A quick five points from Iona junior guard Judith Gomez, a layup from freshman guard and Waterbury, Connecticut, native Mya Zaccagnini — who had family and friends in the crowd — and a three from graduate student forward Sierra DeAngelo put the Bobcats in an early hole.

It was up to the Bobcats to claw back. After all, Quinnipiac has done nothing but claw the entire season. An injury to junior guard Jackie Grisdale, a non-conference schedule where it finished with a losing record and constant battles in a tough conference have defined its season so far.

“We knew we had a decision to make in that moment,” sophomore forward Ella O’Donnell said. “We can either shrivel up or we could go at it.”

Today was no different.

A first-quarter timeout from head coach Tricia Fabbri lit a fire under the Bobcats that fueled them for the rest of the game.

Freshman guard Ava Sollenne got Quinnipiac on the board with a three-pointer. In her first collegiate start, she notched 11 points on three rebounds and one assist.

“She’s a beast in practice, always going after it, pushing us to be better,” freshman guard Karson Martin said. “She earned that (starting) spot one thousand percent.”

Martin, junior forward Grace LaBarge, O’Donnell and freshman forward Anna Foley resuscitated the Bobcats back into the game.

At the end of the first Iona held a slim 17-14 lead.

The Bobcats captured the lead back in the second quarter 33-30 fueled by Martin, Sollenne and O’Donnell, who all looked confident on the floor. Quinnipiac continued to face adversity, and rebounded immediately.

Take for instance, with around 1:30 remaining in the second quarter, Sollenne turned the ball over and Zaccagnini scored an easy two.

The very next possession, Sollenne buried a three off a feed from LaBarge.

Martin led the way for the Bobcats. In the midst of Grisdale’s absence, the Georgia native continues to be a monster, both in energy and ability for Quinnipiac.

“She was going and we were just going to go to her all day,” Fabbri said. “Feed the hot hand.”

On a day where the Bobcats kept on battling, that adversity continued to follow them in the third. A three from junior guard Ella Fajardo as the shot clock expired and a three-point play from sophomore forward Petra Oborilova put Iona up 44-41.

Quinnipiac came clawing back with a basket from freshman guard Maria Kealy and Foley, but the Gaels kept putting buckets up in the third. But Iona continued to fight, and at the end of the third, it led the Bobcats 49-47.

Now let’s go to the fourth quarter.

Do you remember how the Bobcats kept rebounding back? Well, it kept happening.

To start the second quarter, Quinnipiac outscored Iona eight to two. A confident, shifty O’Donnell scored four in the post for the Bobcats en route to a double-double, her third of the season.

A lay-up from Sollenne and a brilliant pass from Foley to freshman guard Paige Girardi notched her first two points of the day and a 55-51 Quinnipiac lead with 7:39 left in the game.

From there it was a pure fight for the lead. Both teams traded it as much as Wall Street bankers do the stock market.

O’Donnell worked and shined in the post; she had six points in the fourth quarter.

But Iona kept up with Quinnipiac. Two threes from Gomez and a basket from Fajardo kept the Gaels in it and with 1:05 remaining in the game, the Bobcats led 64-62.

With 24 seconds remaining, Martin proved why she was the game’s MVP. Following a miss from Foley, Martin with her five-foot-seven frame grabbed the rebound and laid the rock up to push the Bobcats even further from the Gaels 66-62. She finished the game with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Following a Foley bucket, Fajardo two and two Foley free throws, the Bobcats came away with a 70-64 win over the Gaels.

Quinnipiac will begin a tough stretch of games on Thursday going to western New York to face Canisius Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. and Niagara Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. The next week it plays Fairfield and Siena at home.

“We’re going to take on (Canisius and Niagara) like we took on Iona today,” O’Donnell said. “We’re not going to back down … We’re going to go out and send them a message.”

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