Lady Braves catch fire in time for NEC Tournament
The Quinnipiac Women’s Basketball Team finished their regular season with a five game winning streak, including a successful 2-0 trip in Pennsylvania this past weekend. The Lady Braves defeated Robert Morris 79-72, and Saint Francis University 72-57, to clinch second place in the Northeast Conference (12-6) and finish 15-12 overall; their best record since the `91- ’92 season.
The Lady Braves will take on seventh seed Farleigh Dickenson in an intense match in search for their first-ever NEC Tournament Championship and bid to the NCAA tournament at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ on Saturday, March 3 at 2:15pm.
On Thursday, Freshman center and Pittsburgh native, Ashlee Kelly scored a career high 23 points, grabbed 20 boards, and blocked four shots in Quinnipiac’s 79-72 triumph over a scrappy Robert Morris team in Moon Township, PA. Sophomore point guard Kara Cassidy, who attended Cardinal O’Hara High School, is also a Pennsylvania native. Hailing from West Chester, Cassidy matched her career high, pouring in 14 points, dishing out three assists, and registering three steals. Senior guard Colleen Klopp finished the game with 14 points. Klopp was recently named to the Verizon Academic University Division Women’s Basketball All-District I Team. The team is selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America. As a result, Klopp (Southington, CT) is now on the National Academic All-America ballot.
All ten Braves who played, scored. The Braves held a 39-31 halftime lead and never looked back, leading by as much as 10 in the second half; the Lady Colonials never came within 7 points the entire second half. The Braves shot .473 from the field, made 24 of 29 free throws, and outrebounded Robert Morris, 42 to 29.
On Saturday, Quinnipiac extended it’s winning streak to five, as senior center Kim Misiaszek recorded her fifth double-double of the season, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, along with three steals, in the Braves’ 72-57 routing of St. Francis (PA). St. Francis is the five-time defending NEC tournament champion, and the Braves were 0-4 vs. the Red Flash prior to Saturday’s match.
“It’s important that we’re playing well now,” said Misiaszek. “We are coming together as a team, finally reaching our potential. I want to finish my career as the NEC champion and go to the NCAA tournament.”
Added junior guard Katie Caputi, “These wins gives us momentum going into the playoffs. We know we can beat anyone, now that your defense stepped it up.”
After the Lady Braves took a 15-14 lead over the Red Flash with 10:08 remaining in the first half. Quinnipiac never looked back and held a commanding 43-30 halftime lead. Quinnipiac continued their dominating play in the second half outscoring St. Francis 14-8 to open up a 57-38 lead with 14:21 seconds remaining in the game.
Finishing in double figures for the Braves were freshman Sara Esidore, who finished with 13 points, including a perfect 3 of 3 from 3-point land, and Ashlee Kelly, who has been nothing but solid for the Lady Braves, almost finished with her third consecutive double-double, pouring in 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Senior Colleen Klopp scored 12 points and grabbed 4 boards. Point guard Kara Cassidy scored seven points and dished out a game-high four assists, and had three steals. Sophomore Megan Rooney (2 steals) also played well for Quinnipiac. The Lady Braves shot .458 from the field, made 13 of 19 free throws, and outrebounded the Red Flash 40 to 33.
The Lady Braves have won five straight and seven of their last eight games. This momentum is huge for the playoffs. However, it shows the potential that the Braves have. “As long as we play to our ability, no one can stop us,” says Misiaszek. Adds Caputi, “The possibilities are endless, if we play with our hearts.”