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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 hopes to build off playoff win, MAAC Tournament performance

Tyler Rinko
Freshman guard Karson Martin dribbles the ball against Saint Peter’s in the opening round of the MAAC Tournament.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Quinnipiac women’s basketball performed just about how a No. 7 team in the MAAC would be expected to perform in the the conference tournament: OK.

The Bobcats edged out an overtime win over No. 10 Saint Peter’s Tuesday afternoon, then lost Wednesday afternoon to No. 2 Niagara — who eventually fell to Fairfield in the conference championship.

But that’s alright for the Bobcats. Head coach Tricia Fabbri knows that just getting a win in the MAAC Tournament would be enough for Quinnipiac to gain momentum heading into next season.

“Coming in from last week and getting a win in the tournament is going to lead to our building of a next step,” Fabbri said on March 13. “Their ability to … take the punch but continue to build … it’s going to be very important to us as we go forward.”

So let’s break down both games and why the Bobcats achieved what they did.

On Tuesday against Saint Peter’s, Quinnipiac merely survived and advanced. It never dominated the game, it just outpaced the Peacocks enough to get the win.

Freshman guards Ava Sollenne and Karson Martin were the reason why.

Their 19 and 18 points respectively fueled Quinnipiac’s offense, while Saint Peter’s defense honed in on defending the frontcourt — specifically freshman forward Anna Foley, who still put up 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We were just mixing up our defenses, a little bit of pressure here, then mix up who was guarding her,” Saint Peter’s head coach Jennifer Leedham said on March 12.

The Peacocks’ 2-1-2 zone defense countered Foley’s normal positioning as a five in the post by putting three people around her, with any one of them being able to crash in and pressure her. When they did crash on the All-MAAC Second Teamer, sophomore forward Ella O’Donnell or junior forward Grace LaBarge, Sollenne and Martin were both open beyond the arc.

Sollenne and Martin finished Tuesday with a 67% and 60% 3-point percentage, both percentages among the best in their respective careers.

“I get a lot of confidence from my coaches just to keep shooting,” Sollenne said on March 12. “(It) makes me feel way more confident taking those shots.”

The Bobcats weren’t ever favorites to win the conference, and against all of the teams in the top five of the MAAC, they were underdogs.

But besides No. 5 Manhattan, Niagara — Quinnipiac’s quarterfinal opponent —was the best possible matchup.

“Credit to a very tough, younger Quinnipiac team,” Niagara head coach Jada Pierce said on March 13. “They took us to overtime twice this year, we knew this game was going to be a big game for us.”

But the Bobcats’ performance on Wednesday afternoon was nothing like those two overtime losses — Quinnipiac was shown the door in the third quarter.

To give the benefit of the doubt, the Bobcats had just a single day of rest and both Sollenne and Martin played 99% of the game against Saint Peter’s, so the team was gassed.

But Niagara — en route to the MAAC Championship game — simply dominated.

The Purple Eagles’ “hurricane havoc,” a full-court relentless man-to-man defense, forced Quinnipiac to turn the ball over a season-high 35 times. Whether it be from a 10-second violation, a five-second violation, steals or bad passes, Niagara was all over the Bobcats.

The Purple Eagles scored 31 points off of turnovers. Quinnipiac scored five.

Both O’Donnell and LaBarge fought their way to double-doubles, mainly due to grabbing boards from Niagara’s terrible second quarter and three point field-goal percentage. It shot 21% in the second, and 15% from three the entire game.

Although Quinnipiac’s dreams of being a “Cinderella” story in the MAAC Tournament fell right on its face in the quarterfinals, its young core experienced both the highs of winning a close game, and the lows of being bested by a stronger team.

There’s a lot yet to be built in Hamden, but the experience Sollenne, Martin, Foley and the rest of the freshmen had, is something to keep building the Bobcats foundation.

“Getting that one win in AC is going to propel us going forward,” LaBarge said on March 13.

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Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

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