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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

Women’s basketball keeps building with win over Rider

Julia Kusmenko
Junior forward Grace LaBarge drives to the basket in Quinnipiac’s 65-54 win over Rider Saturday afternoon.

HAMDEN — Foundation has been the word of the season for Quinnipiac women’s basketball. It built off its foundation in its previous win over Marist and continued by handling Rider 65-54 Saturday afternoon.

In both wins this week, the Bobcats’ depth shined, the team succeeded at the free-throw line and its best player — freshman forward Anna Foley — balled.

The Massachusetts native amassed her third double-double of her collegiate career and led the team in points for the second game in a row, scoring 18.

“I finally got back to the way I know I can play,” Foley said.

The Bobcats started the game with an immediate bang. Junior forward Grace LaBarge charged through the Rider defense and took lots of contact, but made a solid finish for the and-one.

“It’s something we really needed to happen,” LaBarge said. “We came out, hit first and stayed up the whole game.”

Quinnipiac didn’t relinquish the lead it earned on that play for the rest of the game.

Another pattern from Thursday evening that repeated itself today was the Bobcats’ depth coming through amid an injury crisis — junior guard Jackie Grisdale and sophomore forward Ella O’Donnell both remain sidelined.

On Thursday, it was senior guard Jillian Casey stepping up off the bench with six points. Today it was junior guard Reiven Douglas.

Although she doesn’t play much in the Bobcats system, her impact on the second quarter was monumental.

In four minutes and 20 seconds, Douglas knocked down a three from the left wing to extend Quinnipiac’s lead to nine and a jumper that put the Bobcats lead into double digits.

“Every possession matters … we need everybody to come in,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “We can’t take that for granted.”

But the Bobcats also broke one of their worst habits: third quarter struggles.

In its four-game skid, Quinnipiac was outscored 89-55 by its opponents in the third. Today, the Bobcats were by no means perfect in the frame, but they managed to weather that storm better by outscoring Rider 19-14.

The Bobcats’ early third-quarter scoring started with Foley making a shot in the post, then freshman guard Karson Martin knocked down a pull-up jumper followed by a LaBarge three.

The Broncs stayed in it with baskets from guards senior Molly Lynch and junior Jamia Blake. Junior guard Mariona Cos-Morales scored five points in the frame, doing her best to ignite the Rider offense.

Quinnipiac ended the third quarter with one of its most impressive possessions of the day.

With 10 seconds left, Foley passed the ball to freshman guard Maria Kealy at the top of the key. Kealy then threw it to freshman guard Ava Sollenne, who found freshman guard Paige Girardi in the corner for the bucket.

The bench erupted as the Bobcats went up by 11 to end the frame.

“I just have the best teammates … they know that I’ve been struggling from three for the past few games, so it was really nice to have that moment,” Girardi said.

Quinnipiac won’t make night-and-day changes, but it will continue to build. Its progress in the third quarter is a testament to that.

But even with their third-quarter success, it never seemed like the Bobcats could fully shake Rider off their tail, especially at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Kealy made a three, Lynch and Langan responded with five points of their own. Foley and Sollenne scored a combined four, Rider knocked down another five.

The Bobcats separated themselves in this contest by finding their way to the charity stripe. Quinnipiac went 13-19 from the line and earned 16 more trips than the Broncs.

“The last two games, it was a real focus of not putting the opponent in the bonus,” Fabbri said. “I would have liked to see a couple more go down the stretch to breathe a little easier.”

But Fabbri could exhale with 22.2 seconds left. Foley stepped up to the line.

The first one? Swish. The second? Nothing but net.

The Bobcats cemented their 65-54 win with those buckets.

To make matters worse, Kealy slammed the door shut in Rider’s face to end the game. The Donegal, Ireland, native blocked Broncs senior guard Makayla Firebaugh late in the contest on a three-point attempt, closing any chance for Rider to get last-minute points.

With the win, the Bobcats are back to walking again in their process of “crawl, walk, run, sprint,” — something Fabbri has emphasized all year.

Quinnipiac’s next two MAAC games are on the road, with the first contest being at Saint Peter’s with a 7 p.m. tipoff.

“Let’s start to get on a run and keep building that momentum for March,” Fabbri said.

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