End of an era

Quinnipiac women’s basketball’s 2018 graduating group leaves as the ‘best senior class to come through Quinnipiac’

By on March 26, 2019

Era is defined as long and distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic.

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
For the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team, that feature has been the senior class, consisting of guards Edel Thornton and Brittany Martin, redshirt forward Jen Fay and forwards Aryn McClure and Paula Strautmane.

The senior class is responsible for a 108-29 career record, including a 70-6 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) record which includes back-to-back undefeated seasons from the 2017-18 season to the 2018-19 season. They’ve also been successful at defending their home court, going 37-6 at home, good for a .860 win percentage.

“Great season for our Bobcats, end of an era for an incredible senior class,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said after the team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. “Unfortunately, I’m saying this too soon. [They are] the best senior class to come through Quinnipiac Bobcat history, so it’s a bittersweet moment for me right now.”

Quinnipiac lost to South Dakota State University at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse 76-65 on Saturday, March 23. Who led the way for the Bobcats? Their seniors.

Fay, Strautmane and McClure all scored double-digits for the team, fitting the overall shape of their senior season as they were the top scorers and rebounders for the Bobcats all year long.

Adding in Thornton and Martin, the class accounted for five out of the top six scorers while its forwards were three of the top five rebounders on the team. They recorded 71 percent (268-of-375) of the team’s steals on the year and the senior class owns the top five in terms of assists on the year.

While the class’ forwards have consistently brought it, Martin had to silently work off the bench until given the opportunity to step up to the plate, and she ran with it.

“She knows that this is her last ride into the sunset with her teammates that have accomplished so much and you just want to leave it all out on the floor,” Fabbri said after Martin scored a career-high 20 points against Manhattan back on Feb. 28 in Hamden. “Her confidence level has been unwavering all season long.”

Thornton, an Ireland native, has been a thorn in the side of offenses everywhere, consistently bringing staunch defensive play. Her steals total reached a career-high 61 this past season.

This all en route to a third straight MAAC championship, including a 52-game MAAC win streak, and third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The senior class has knocked off the University of Miami twice in the “Big Dance” as well as Marquette, and now has a 3-3 NCAA Tournament record. This gave Quinnipiac its first three wins in the tournament and improved upon its 0-2 record prior.

This season not only helped highlight the impact that this team has had on not only the program, but the university.

“The compete level, the absolute loving the challenge of going out and playing the Texas’, the Missouri’s, the Miami’s, whoever,” Fabbri said. “The compete level has been second to none and one of our pillars of how we have built a program and they have enhanced that during their four years.”

“Basketball has been an important piece to who they are, and what they have done for this university nationally to bring the recognition in such a classy way has made me very proud…and has brought incredible notoriety to our university.”

That notoriety includes most of the major media outlets having to learn how to properly pronounce “Quinnipiac” on air and even spelling out the phonetic sounding of the name when it made its Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 the seniors’ sophomore season. This points to a common theme the sports world has shown to the Bobcats’ seniors – one that lacks recognition for their individual accomplishments.

There is a common saying in sports: There is no “I” in “team.” Yet, when a team displays such consistent and dominant success, it should be impossible not to recognize the individual players for their personal accomplishment and contributions to the team’s success. Right?

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it’s amazing that these seniors, as juniors and seniors, and as sophomores went to a Sweet 16 and individually they were not recognized,” Fabbri said after winning the MAAC championship for the third straight year. “They would tell you that they don’t care, and I get coach of the year. I don’t get coach of the year without players. I’m the coach I am because of the players that we have in this program and it hurt me that they are not individually recognized amongst the league as the best.”

Here’s another question: how can three 1,000-point scorers not be recognized by the league?

They reached this while having other prime scoring options on their teams over the years both inside the paint and beyond the arc. This came in the form of former Bobcat guards Adily Martucci (’17) and Carly Fabbri (’18), and forwards Sarah Shewan (’18) and Morgan Manz (’17).

Despite all of this, it doesn’t look like they’ve received respect for their accomplishments from the outside world, but that never really mattered to them, according to Fabbri.

“They’ve been an incredible group of young ladies that never cared about the recognition, the individual accolades,” Fabbri said. “They cared about this program, being their best and how they were going to contribute to making this program be their best. They’re outstanding young ladies and I look forward to sharing what’s coming next for both of us even though it’s not on the court.”

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
As of now, it’s certain that one Bobcat senior will be heading back to the floor post-grad. The Trinity University Meteors announced on Monday, March 18 via Twitter that Thornton would be joining the team while pursuing a Masters in Psychology.

“Blessed that basketball has given me so  many opportunities in life, including this chance to study my dream course, at a world renowned university and play ball w/ Meteors,” Thornton tweeted. “All while being back on IRISH SOIL.”

While Thornton’s basketball career isn’t over, her and her class have pulled off the blue and gold for the final time. They are leaving behind a legacy that will inspire future student athletes to take the court for the Bobcats trying to emulate their success, and to add to the history that will forever hang from the rafters of the People’s United Center.

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