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Maryland ends Quinnipiac’s season in NCAA tournament
A 30-win season, 22-game win streak, an undefeated conference schedule, an NEC tournament title and its first trip to the NCAA tournament. In just one season, the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team had accomplished all of this, bringing its program to new levels.
Today, they had to put all this behind them as they traveled to College Park, Md. to face No. 12 Maryland.
The Bobcats weren’t able to push the program to the next plateau however, as they fell 72-52 in the first round to No. 4 seed Maryland.
No. 13 seed Quinnipiac came out slow in the first half hitting just 1 of 8. After going behind early, 6-2, the Bobcats began to find their stroke from behind the arc. Ellen Cannon ended a streak of seven straight misses by draining a 3-pointer to make it a 6-5 game. Later in the half, senior guard Lisa Lebak hit a 3-pointer and Cannon followed it up with back-to-back 3-pointers of her own to bring the Bobcats to a 15-8 lead. Brittany McQuain and Camryn Warner added consecutive shots to give Quinnipiac its biggest lead of the day at 19-10 with 7:27 to go in the half.
“I think we were all pretty excited,” Gillian Abshire said of the early lead. “I don’t think [we] expected to have that kind of a lead so quickly in the game but they hit two threes and came back into the game so it was tough trying to push the lead from there.”
Junior Alyssa Thomas, who led the Terrapins in scoring this season wasn’t fond of the scoring run. Thomas sank back-to-back shots and got some help from second leading scorer, Tianna Hawkins. Hawkins made a layup to bring it to 21-18 and then followed it up on the next possession with a 3-pointer to tie it at 21 with 5:11 remaining in the half.
“Prior to that moment, coach Frese challenged me on the bench,” Hawkins said. “She wanted me to go to the boards. I had gotten a couple of key rebounds and it just gave me momentum and confidence to shoot that 3-pointer with the assist from one of my teammates.”
Jasmine Martin answered with a layup and what would be the Bobcats last lead of the season at 23-21. At the end of the first half, Quinnipiac was in striking distance trailing, 27-23.
“We felt really good about what was going to happen in the second half,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri. “That was anybody’s game. Even giving up the lead, we thought that our gold rush, our numbers would still allow us to keep our pressure on them.”
After ending the first half hitting just one of its last 11 shots, Quinnipiac struggled shooting in the second half as well as it only had one of its first 13 shots fall. This allowed Maryland to get out in front, 41-26 with 13:30 remaining in the game.
Quinnipiac was unable to mount a comeback and ultimately lost, 72-52, as they were dominated by the size and length of the Terrapins.
“Their length they are a lot longer than we are for sure,” McQuain said. Our assistant coach pointed out that if we had played against those bodies all year long we definitely would have been a little bit more prepared. I couldn’t be more proud of my team for handling the challenge we just faced.”
The height advantage helped four of Maryland’s five starters finish with double digit rebounding numbers. No one on the Bobcats had more than nine rebounds as they were ousted on the glass, 59-41. They did however match them on the offensive boards at 16 a piece.
The duo of Thomas and Hawkins as well caused trouble for the Bobcats all game, especially in the second half.
Thomas finished with a game-high 29 points and 13 rebounds as well as five assists. Hawkins finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds.
“They are great players, let me tell you what,” McQuain said. “Thomas is outstanding. She is very comfortable with the ball and I commend her. She’s going to do great things I’m sure. Being on the floor with talent like that it’s kind of humbling. We did extremely well in the NEC, not losing a game then coming here playing against a really good ACC team really kind of opened our eyes a little bit. We can do this again. I have no doubt in my mind. I think that being on the floor with them is really surreal but at the same time we know we can do this again.”
Despite the loss, Maryland had good things to say about the play of Quinnipiac as well who led by as much as nine in the first half.
“We weren’t surprised at all,” Thomas said. “We’ve seen the press and how amped up they were for this game and they’re a very good team. We knew they were going to come out and give us their best punch.”
Maryland head coach Brenda Frese thought Quinnipiac did a good job as well and their “gold rush” substitutions were effective, especially in the first half.
“I think we were able to wear them down,” Frese said. “You could see that in the second half we still wanted to continue to push tempo. They matched us still on the offensive glass. They were physical and I thought they gave us their best punch in the first half. But I do think our size, our physicality, our length, athleticism.”
The real dagger for Quinnipiac was shooting as they struggled to sink shots all day and finished shooting a season-low 23 percent from the floor including 8-of-42 in the second half.
Senior guard Felicia Baron and sophomore Martin helped lead the Bobcats in several games this seaon but were the main components of the poor shooting. Barron missed her first 12 shots from the floor before sinking a 3-pointer late in the second half. Martin wasn’t much better hitting 2-of-15 shots on the night as they combined to go 6 for 33 from the floor.
“We’ve been able to sustain nights like that where we’ve had off nights,” Fabbri said. “But the difference was again, just their length on the perimeter, challenging the shots, how quick they are to the ball that we didn’t have that level of having another second to get our shot off. That speeding us up hurt our accuracy from the perimeter with everybody.”
Maryland advances to the second round of the NCAA tournament and will play Michigan St. in College Park on Monday.