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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

‘No quit’ Bobcats push Niagara to limit in 66-60 overtime loss

Julia Kusmenko
Freshman guard Ava Sollenne co-led the Bobcats with 14 points in their 66-60 overtime loss to Niagara Thursday evening.

HAMDEN — Following a 66-60 overtime loss to Niagara Thursday night, an impassioned Quinnipiac women’s basketball head coach Tricia Fabbri entered the press conference room and gave her opening remarks.

“I actually could not be more proud of the team I am coaching this year,” Fabbri said. “There is absolutely no quit, they battle every second.”

Despite the loss to the Purple Eagles — who are proving themselves to be one of the MAAC’s best teams, rolling on a nine-game win streak — Fabbri and the team were proud of the result.

Especially with Niagara’s unrelenting full-court defense.

The first half was characterized by tough, stubborn defense, turnovers, mistakes and individual standouts.

Quinnipiac has struggled with the full-court press all season, and it continued to today.

The Bobcats turned the ball over a season-high 34 times, exceeding their previous high, 31, which it also tallied against Niagara.

However, Quinnipiac also managed to maneuver its way out of the press many times, relying on inbounding to a big who then handed the rock off to one of the guards who stormed up court to lead the offense or drive the ball into the paint.

In the first quarter, freshman forward Anna Foley — who was mainly guarding Niagara junior guard Aaliyah Parker — drew two early fouls, putting her out of action for the rest of the half.

That enabled Parker to keep scoring, and eventually lead the Purple Eagles with 23 points.

Junior guard Reiven Douglas proved to be one of the most important assets off of Quinnipiac’s bench. She managed well with Niagara’s full-court press.

The Raleigh, North Carolina, native opened the bank with two baskets in the first half. One extended the Bobcats lead to seven in the first, the other gave them a two-point lead in the second.

On the Bobcats’ final possessions of each quarter, sophomore center Khadijah Tungo left her mark.

In the first quarter, she careened the ball into the net for her first collegiate points of her career. Her momentous basket put the Bobcats up 15-7 at the end of the first.

“I didn’t know how to react,” Tungo said. “I was just so happy that (the team was) happy for me.”

In the second, she made an authoritative, Dikembe Mutombu-like block on Purple Eagles sophomore guard Chardonnay Hartley to keep the game at the time tied at 23 all.

In the third quarter — which has been a problem all year for the Bobcats — Niagara started to break away with its defense overwhelming Quinnipiac.

Points from Parker, Hartley and senior forward Saige Glover helped the Purple Eagles outscore the Bobcats 19-14 in the frame, but a three from freshman guard Ava Sollenne kept the Bobcats in it by the end of the third at 42-37.

The game’s ferocity, fight and battle culminated in the fourth quarter.

Quinnipiac lived and died by the three in the fourth, courtesy of freshmen guards Karson Martin and Sollenne, who co-led the team with 14 points each.

It began with a three from Martin right in front of the Bobcats’ bench which cut the lead to 42-40 Niagara. In the middle, Sollenne drew Quinnipiac even with the Purple Eagles, and Martin put the Bobcats in front 53-50 with 4:05 left in the quarter, capitalizing an 11-0 run.

“We were really up to the challenge,” Fabbri said. “(The guards) are giving me their best effort and execution.”

However, Niagara jumped out to a three-point lead courtesy of the Parker sisters. A jumper from graduate guard Angel Parker and a free throw from Aaliyah Parker had the Purple Eagles ahead 58-55 with a little over a minute remaining.

Then Foley came in clutch.

Following an inbound from freshman guard Paige Girardi, the Massachusetts native pushed the ball up and into the net while drawing a foul for the and-one. She tied the game at 58 which is where it would stay for the rest of regulation.

Overtime for both teams.

Quinnipiac played its fourth overtime game of the season and its second against Niagara. But the Purple Eagles were too much, as their defensive pressure caused too many turnovers and difficulty for the Bobcats.

The only Quinnipiac points came from two free throws by sophomore guard Bri Bowen.

The Bobcats battled relentlessly but fell short. What was the icing on the cake? The Parker sisters.

In Niagara’s final possession of the game, Angel Parker drove into the lane and laid the ball up to extend the Purple Eagles lead to five. The kicker was she drew a foul that Foley committed. Two daggers in one.

“(The Parker sisters) hit some tough shots when it mattered most,” Fabbri said. “You’ve got to give them credit where credit is due.”

Niagara left Hamden with a 66-60 overtime win and awaits the one-loss Fairfield Stags in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The Bobcats host Canisius on Saturday for senior day and their penultimate home game of the season. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.

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