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- Crossing the line
Women’s basketball clinches NEC title
Will host NEC Tournament
While Hollywood was preparing for Oscar night, the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team was busy winning an award of its own.
On Saturday the Bobcats clinched the NEC Regular Season Championship for the second time in program history while maintaining their undefeated record in the conference against last year’s regular season champ, Sacred Heart.
The newly-crowned champions returned to the TD Bank Sports Center on Monday for a matchup with Bryant. In their final home game of the season, head coach Tricia Fabbri was determined not to let her team be overwhelmed by emotions following such a dramatic victory.
“We wanted to guard against the letdown of such a big win and wrapping up the regular season, and we weren’t flat at all,” she said. “We came out and we played really well.”
The Bobcats, who have been prone to falling behind early over the last few games, reversed that trend against the Bulldogs. Quinnipiac led by as much as 20 before some defensive miscues allowed Bryant to get back in the game.
“We missed three straight front ends at one-and-ones and we didn’t get back on our defensive transition to allow them to get a little life,” Fabbri said.
The Bulldogs threatened, cutting the Quinnipiac lead to just five points with less than four minutes remaining. Despite the Bryant surge the Bobcats never trailed. The team regained their composure in the final minutes and finished off the Bryant Bulldogs, 74-61 for their 17th straight win, improving to 16-0 in the NEC, and finishing an undefeated regular season at the TD Bank Sports Center.
Over the last 17 games fans have watched Quinnipiac face the best teams the NEC had to offer and has dominated almost every opponent, winning 13 games by double digit margins in that stretch.
The Bobcats have made winning look easy; however, it has been quite the opposite.
“It’s a challenge at best,” Brittany McQuain said. “We have a huge target on our backs. You know being 16-0 isn’t as easy as it sounds in this conference. Everybody’s out to win. Everybody’s out to take that first spot and you know if you don’t play well every game then you’re gonna lose.”
Quinnipiac is one of only 11 teams in the nation currently undefeated in their conference. The team’s 25-2 overall record ranks sixth in the nation behind powerhouses Notre Dame, Duke, Baylor, Dayton, and Stanford. With so much success it could be easy to get complacent. However, Fabbri’s team has kept their eyes on the prize and set their goals accordingly.
“We’ve accomplished some goals,” Fabbri said. “You want a winning season, you want 20 wins, you want a conference championship. But the one we want is still out there so that is just motivation alone and we are not looking past anything.”
After the game against Bryant coach Fabbri took a moment to appreciate what her team had accomplished and what it would mean for the program, but not without reminding everyone that there is more to come.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment winning every game at home but we know we have a lot more ahead of us,” Fabbri said. “To get to 25 wins you know 20 is special, 25 is pretty impressive. Staying undefeated on our home floor is a big deal because we put ourselves in a position to play here throughout the playoffs.”
With the NEC regular season title safely at hand, the remaining goals for Quinnipiac are of course to finish the season unbeaten in the conference, but more importantly to shine in the postseason. The team feels they are fully prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Quinnipiac has been successful this season because its ability to get production out of many different players. Every night, it seems like someone new steps up for the Bobcats which has made them a nightmare for NEC teams to contend with. Against Bryant, it was McQuian and Camryn Warner. Though she only scored four points McQuian was a key to the offense, with six assists compared to one turnover, and defensively, racking up five steals and two blocks. Meanwhile, Warner scored a career-high 17 points.
“Brittany’s been having some monster games for us and now the emphasis went back inside and that created everything around her on the outside,” Fabbri said. “People are going to have to pick their poison where they want to go to stop us and Brittany did a great job with assists to turnovers and getting everyone else the ball.”
Another key for Quinnipiac has been creating turnovers. Bryant had more turnovers, 24, than field goals, 23 on Monday night.
“That’s been a really big part of why we have had success, our ability to turn teams over to pressure, force turnovers and create a pace on offense,” Fabbri said.
With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Bobcats will travel to New York to take on LIU-Brooklyn on March 2 as they continue their quest for a perfect conference record. Two days later, in their final game of the regular season, they will take on St. Francis (N.Y.). Quinnipiac will then return home to host the NEC Tournament on Sunday, March 10 where they hope to cap off this blockbuster season with a Hollywood ending by winning the NEC Tournament Championship.