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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Women’s basketball aiming for ‘best effort’ in quarterfinal bout with No. 2 Niagara

Tyler Rinko
Quinnipiac women’s basketball has lost in overtime twice to Niagara this season. Tipoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The last time Quinnipiac women’s basketball and Niagara were both in the MAAC Tournament, both programs were upset by a lower seed (the No. 6 Manhattan Jaspers).

The Purple Eagles and Bobcats came in as the respective No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.

This year, Quinnipiac is hoping to do to its opponents what Manhattan did last year. Beat Saint Peter’s in the opening round, then upset Niagara en route to the championship game.

But there are a couple obstacles standing in the Bobcats’ way, the firstly being their restlessness compared to Niagara’s restfulness.

The last time the Purple Eagles played was this past Saturday, March 9, in an 84-50 walloping of cross-town rivals Canisius. Quinnipiac last played less than a day ago.

Coupled with two of the Bobcats’ three primary ball carriers — freshman guards Karson Martin and Ava Sollenne — playing 99% of the overtime win over Saint Peter’s and Niagara’s unrelenting full-court press, Quinnipiac is in for a difficult, difficult time.

But the Bobcats are not hopeless, far from it.

Quinnipiac has experienced playing with little to no rest, it played eight-straight weeks of conference games on Thursday-Saturday with one day of rest in between.

And on that rest day, the Bobcats practiced.

“We’ve had practice after games … we’re ready to go, we’re conditioned,” Martin said Tuesday. “Everyone has gotten us ready for moments like this.”

Quinnipiac needs to be conditioned for Niagara’s full-court press defense, which has forced the most turnovers in the conference, and 254 more than second-place Siena.

It needs Martin (All-MAAC Rookie Team) and Sollenne to lead the way again. But to rest them a little bit, don’t be surprised to see freshman guard Paige Girardi and junior guard Reiven Douglas getting involved more.

“We were really up to the challenge,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said on Feb. 22 following Quinnipiac’s second overtime loss to Niagara. “Everybody has got to give (their best effort).”

To give their best effort, Martin and Sollenne both need to shine again. With much of the defensive attention likely going to All-MAAC Second Team freshman forward Anna Foley — who was guarded by Purple Eagles’ junior guard Aaliyah Parker (also an All-MAAC Second Teamer) — that leaves some wiggle room for Martin and Sollenne to pull up from three.

The two guards led the Bobcats in scoring in both overtime losses to Niagara. Sollenne notched her career high of 30 (which she won MAAC Rookie of the Week honors for) in the game at Lewiston, New York, and Martin dropped 12. In the game at M&T Bank Arena, both scored 14.

If Quinnipiac wins, expect those two to be major contributors again.

Following the Feb. 22 game, Sollenne foreshadowed the Bobcats mentality heading into the game.

“We knew that we have a fighting chance at this, we all believed, we’re keeping that mentality all the way until the MAAC Tournament,” Sollenne said. “That’s not going to end until the end of the MAAC Tournament when hopefully, we’re champions.”

Tipoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

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Tyler Rinko
Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

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