STOP #2: TD Bank Sports Center, Hamden, CT
Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 12pm
QUINNIPIAC BOBCATS 74 (12-2, 3-0), SACRED HEART PIONEERS 45 (9-6, 1-2)
This was a game that was circled on the calendar from the moment that conference schedules came out months ago. Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac were the top two teams in the NEC standings last year and were forecasted as being the top two teams in the NEC this year. With their first encounter scheduled for just the second conference weekend, this meeting served to be an early season “measuring stick” type of game. With all of their key pieces back, we knew Quinnipiac was going to be strong in 2013, but exactly how strong? Match them up against the reigning champions and perhaps we could gather some more insight.
The Pioneers started off very strong, hitting four of their first eight shots and jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead. With six minutes gone by the Pioneers were in front 11-9, until Bobcat junior Brittany McQuain took over. McQuain netted seven straight points for Quinnipiac to give them the lead for the first time on the afternoon.
The turning point came at the midway point of the first half, with QU holding onto a slim 16-15 lead. The Bobcats would finish the first half on a 19-6 run, holding Sacred Heart without a field goal from the 7:13 mark to the final minute of the half. From there, Quinnipiac would pull away, defeating the reigning champs 74-45. QU moves to 12-2 on the season, continuing their best start since 2008, when they began 15-2, leading to their lone regular season championship. McQuain led all scorers with 21 points, in addition to 10 rebounds. Both members of the QU backcourt reached double figures in scoring with Felicia Barron netting 13, and Jasmine Martin recording 14. Sacred Heart was led by Morgan Merriman with 13 points.
Several things stand out from this game, with the first being the turnovers. Sacred Heart turned the ball over 28 times, which led to 23 Bobcat points off of those turnovers. Second, Gaby Washington, the Pioneers leading scorer, was held in check on the afternoon. Washington scored just 2 points on a 1-14 shooting day. As a team, the Bobcat defense held the Pioneers to a season low 45 points.
The third and final thing that was very evident was the talent and depth of the Bobcats as a team. Need someone to handle the point, set up teammates, and not turn the ball over? Check...Boo Abshire was running the show pretty solid last year as a freshman, now she has another year of experience under her belt. Need points? Check…they have a couple scorers, and don’t need to rely on the same one to score all the points every night. Need defense? Check…Barron is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and is one of the best in the league in steals. Need depth? Check…their second five can handle things on the floor just as efficiently as their starting five. Coach Fabbri can mix and match and make substitutions (and early in today's game, the subs were pretty frequent) without having to worry about her team missing a beat. That brings us to coaching. Check…they have that too, as Coach Fabbri is one of best around, not just in the NEC but the entire nation. I commented prior to the game that if I had a daughter playing college basketball, I’d want her to play for a coach like Tricia Fabbri. The Bobcats are a fantastic collection of talent, a great team in every sense of the word. They work phenomenal as a unit and seemingly have all the pieces to the puzzle to win a championship in 2013.
Brittany McQuain was our Player of the Game on the afternoon, recording her third double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds. She’s also had five games this year where she fell one or two rebounds shy of a double-double. In a league where there are a bunch of talented players at the forward position, McQuain has kind of gone under the radar so far in her career. However, her growth over the last few seasons has made her a dominant presence that’s going to be harder to keep under the radar going forward. As coach Fabbri commented after the game, she’s not just dominant in the paint, but now has developed a comfort level in hitting free throw line/mid-range jumpers when needed/available. It’s just an added dimension to her game that makes her even more dangerous than before.
Both teams will get immediate tests going forward. This game started a stretch of seven out of nine away from the Pitt Center for Sacred Heart, while Quinnipiac will play five of their next seven away from home. Following Saturday’s action, the Bobcats and the St. Francis Red Flash are the lone two remaining unbeaten teams left in NEC play. Quinnipiac’s next three games, all on the road, are at Bryant, at Robert Morris, and then at the unbeaten Red Flash next Monday night. The Pioneers and Bobcats will collide on the hardwood one more time this season, Saturday, February 23rd, at the Pitt Center.
CD POST GAME RECAP
CD POST GAME RECAP
1. Brittany McQuain, QU – 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 33 minutes
2. Jasmine Martin, QU – 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 32 minutes
3. Felicia Barron, QU - 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 30 minutes
You would really have to go out of your way to find a problem with the TD Bank Sports Center. It’s a first class facility that I always enjoy having the opportunity to visit. Upon entering the building, it instantly brought to mind the 2010 NEC Men’s Basketball Championship Game – Quinnipiac vs. Robert Morris. Watching the game on ESPN, I have never seen a more awesome, vocal, and yellow environment. The Bobcats know how to put on a show, as the afternoon featured dramatic lighting for the starting lineups, live singers for the national anthem, and great graphics on the scoreboard.
AROUND THE NEC
CCSU 59, BRYANT 50 – Closer game than the final score says, it was a one point game going into the final minute before CCSU made their free throws late to win by nine. The Blue Devils pick up their first NEC win of 2013.
ST. FRANCIS-BROOKLYN 72, WAGNER 66 – This was another tight one that went into the final minute as a one possession game. With St. Francis up 65-63, Eilidh Simpson connected on a three point dagger for the Terriers. Sarah Beneditti had a monster game of 18 points and 15 rebounds to lead SFC to the win.
MOUNT 66, LIU BROOKLYN 41 – In the first WBB game at the brand new Barclays Center, the Mountaineers came away with a 25 point win. Mount shot over 50% for the game, including shooting 57.7% in a 39 point second half.
MONMOUTH 58, ROBERT MORRIS 47 – Monmouth handed Robert Morris their first conference loss of the season, led by Carly Thibault and Sara English who each netted 14 points. Artemis Spanou brought down a career high 21 rebounds for the Colonials.
ST. FRANCIS 68, FDU 50 – In a battle of NEC unbeatens, the Red Flash came away with an 18 point win Hackensack. The Knights jumped out to a 17-2 lead to start the game, but the Flash would rally to take the lead 29-28 at the half. SFU scored the first 11 points after halftime, and FDU wouldn’t get any closer. Alli Williams led SFU with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 steals – 1 steal shy of a triple double. Erika Livermore picked up her 11th double-double of the season for FDU with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The MLK weekend NEC slate is highlighted by Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart heading to the Keystone State for huge road tests at St. Francis and Robert Morris. Next week’s road trip game is still TBD based on Monday night’s results. However, I can confirm the location. I’ll be at the Pope Physical Education Center in Brooklyn Heights, NY next weekend, home of the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers. I’ll either cover the Saturday, January 19th game against Fairleigh Dickinson at 2pm, or the MLK Day 2pm matinee on Monday, January 21st against the Monmouth Hawks. Stay tuned to the blog Monday night/Tuesday morning for confirmation on the day of next week’s road trip visit to Brooklyn!