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Freshmen make immediate impact for women’s hoops
The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team took the NEC world by storm this year, wrapping up the 2005-2006 campaign with a 22-8 overall record. It was Quinnipiac’s first 20-win regular season since moving up to the Division I ranks.
The Bobcats were overlooked from the start, as they were predicted to finish fifth in the NEC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Many counted the Bobcats out early, believing that the loss of last year’s standout guard Krystal Pressly (who transferred to Division II American International) as well as the players lost to graduation in 2005 would leave some major holes.
But head coach Tricia went out and recruited the best freshman class the program has ever seen. Sacca-Fabbri sold several highly-touted recruits on a picturesque campus, a tradition of excellence, and a young and talented team with NCAA tournament aspirations.
The Bobcats posted a 15-3 conference record, the best in school history, while racking up some hardware.
Sacca-Fabbri was named NEC Coach of the Year after guiding the Bobcats to the NEC championship game. The Bobcats, who fell to in-state rival Sacred Heart, were four points short of qualifying for their first-ever NCAA tournament, losing 69-65 on March 11.
Now the Bobcats are less than nine months away from moving into a new 3,500-seat arena. With a plethora of talented players (five of the ‘Cats top six scorers are underclassmen) returning, the transition should greatly benefit the program and pave the trail to a bright future.
Freshman point guard Erin Kerner (13.9 PPG, team-leading 101 assists and 78 steals) earned unanimous NEC Rookie of the Year honors. The flashy floor general from Erie, Pa., was also named to the All-Conference second team.
Monique Lee made the All-Conference first team after leading the team with 16 points and nine boards per game. Lee was the go-to player inside. The 6-foot-1 sophomore created many match-up difficulties down low, as few post players in the conference were capable of countering her.
Brianna Rooney (8.7 PPG, 53 assists, 51 steals), a high-octane guard from nearby Guilford, was another gem of the freshman class. Rooney, who overcame a pair of nagging knee injuries, made big plays and knocked down shots during critical moments in several games. The shooting guard garnered multiple NEC Rookie of the Week awards in her first season.
Lee sees Rooney as an essential element of the offense next season.
“She’s not afraid to make big plays,” Lee said. “You can always expect Brianna to compete and help find a way to win.”
Kathleen Neyens and Mandy Pennewell are two freshmen who came in and contributed right away. Neyens emerged into a scoring threat and finished second in rebounds behind Lee.
The sharp-shooting Pennewell played an important role off the bench. The guard from West Chester, Pa., was able to enter the game and nail big shots from beyond the arc when the ‘Cats needed them.
This freshman class mastered the jump to the Division I level. More importantly, they were able to gel with the team.
“Everybody is really good friends off the court and I think that led to our chemistry on the court,” Kerner said.
The Bobcats will lose three players to graduation: Charmaine Steele (a fifth-year senior), Jackie Harris and Jamie Harrington, all leaders who played a physically and mentally tough brand of