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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 women’s basketball regains momentum with back-to-back wins

Freshman+guard+Karson+Martin+drives+to+the+net+past+the+Maine+defender+on+November+6%2C+2023.
Tripp Menhall
Freshman guard Karson Martin drives to the net past the Maine defender on November 6, 2023.

“Crawl, walk, run, sprint.”

Quinnipiac women’s basketball head coach Tricia Fabbri has repeated this mantra when talking about the squad this season.

In their wins over Marist and Rider this past weekend, the Bobcats got up on two feet and took their first steps toward a potential postseason run in March, following a four-game losing streak in January.

“I keep going back to crawl, walk, run … this weekend was pivotal for us to get back on track,” Fabbri said on Feb. 3.

The weekend’s success began with laying a great foundation, which freshman forward Anna Foley provided, earning MAAC Player and Rookie of the Week honors.

The Massachusetts native earned two double-doubles, notching career highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds against the Red Foxes, and then dropping 18 and 10 against the Broncs.

“I found confidence in myself again,” Foley said on Feb. 3. “I finally got back to the way I know I can play.”

It doesn’t have to be Foley fueling the offense every game. Freshman guards Karson Martin and Ava Sollenne both have led the team in scoring recently. Martin led with 23 points against Canisius on Jan. 18 and Sollenne scored 30 against Niagara just two days later — snagging her first career MAAC Rookie of the Week honor.

Quinnipiac needs someone to step up and take the reins of the offense each game. Those who mostly held that responsibility — junior guard Jackie Grisdale and sophomore forward Ella O’Donnell — remain out with injuries. Grisdale is done for the year, but O’Donnell’s status is unclear.

It doesn’t matter who it is, but the offense needs a leader.

What’s just as important for the Bobcats’ success this year is their depth.

On Thursday, senior guard Jillian Casey played an immense role in changing the momentum of the game. She missed about two months with an injury, but notched six points going 2-4 from downtown in her second game back.

What was more important was that she drew a charge late in the fourth quarter to allow Quinnipiac to creep even closer into the game, eventually leading to a comeback.

On Saturday, junior guard Reiven Douglas provided an immediate five points off the bench in the second quarter that gave the Bobcats a double-digit lead over Rider.

With O’Donnell going down, junior forward Grace LaBarge has stepped up. On Thursday and Saturday, she tallied 10 and 12 points respectively, nailing the game-tying jumper on Thursday to send Quinnipiac into overtime.

“Grace is shouldering a leadership role … that’s what you really hope happens when you’re an upperclassman,” Fabbri said.

The last two things the Bobcats did well this weekend were get to the foul line and succeed in the third quarter.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, Quinnipiac was perfect from the charity stripe, knocking down all 14 of its free throws. On Saturday, the Bobcats went 13-19 from the line, but got to the line 16 more times than Rider.

“The last two games it was a real focus of not putting the opponent in the bonus,” Fabbri said. “That was pivotal for both our wins against Marist and today against Rider.”

Quinnipiac went 4-6 from the line in the third quarter, a frame the Bobcats have not performed well in.

During Quinnipiac’s four-game skid from Jan. 18-27, the Bobcats were atrocious in the third.

Canisius, Niagara, Fairfield and Siena outscored Quinnipiac 89-55 in the frame. In three out of the four occurrences, that quarter changed the entire momentum of the game.

The Bobcats led the Golden Griffins and Purple Eagles heading into the third, and battled with the Stags until halftime.

However, the Bobcats only lost the third quarter by two against the Red Foxes and won it by five, 19-14 against the Broncs.

“I think both of these games are a direct reflection of not having success earlier when we were up in Buffalo and Fairfield and Siena,” Fabbri said. “If we’re not learning … What’s the point of trying to improve?”

To keep winning basketball games, Quinnipiac needs to come out of halftime surging.

Although these back-to-back wins are great signs of the Bobcats’ progress, it’s important to note that Marist and Rider are currently the respective No. 8 and 10 seeds in the MAAC. Quinnipiac needs to be tested against the upper echelon of the MAAC to find out what it’s made of at this point in the year.

The first such test will be on Feb. 10 at Siena, who Quinnipiacc lost to 78-60 earlier this season.

The Saints dominated the Bobcats in their first matchup and are currently tied with Manhattan for second in the conference.

But more than ever, Quinnipiac knows that it can grow from its previous losses, and there’s no other time to test that than now.

Outside of Saint Peter’s (Feb. 8) and Manhattan (Feb. 17), five of the Bobcats’ seven remaining games this month are against teams they have lost to.

Their next step is on Thursday against Saint Peter’s. Tipoff — and another chance for success –- is slated for 7 p.m.

“We’ve gone through so much adversity,” LaBarge said on Feb. 3.“Success only comes from failure.”

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Tripp Menhall, Associate Photography Editor

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