2013 NEC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
QUARTERFINALS: Sunday, March 10th
#1) QUINNIPIAC 79 (28-2, 18-0), #8) BRYANT 55 (12-18, 7-11)
The Bobcats won their 20th straight game and advanced to the semifinal round of the NEC Tournament for the second straight season following a 79-55 victory over the Bryant Bulldogs. Quinnipiac’s 20 game win streak is tied for the fifth longest in the nation. The Bulldogs netted the first points of the game on a basket by Naana Ankoma-Mensa, but the Bobcats would immediately roll off a 14-0 run to go up by double-figures, and didn’t look back. QU recorded 23 assists and 18 steals on the day, both marks just shy of single game NEC Tournament records. Once again, it was a balanced, team effort, as all ten Bobcats who got into the game found their way into the scoring column. NEC Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference player Felicia Barron tied with teammate Sam Guastella for the team lead in points with 13 on the day. Brittany McQuain earned a double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds, while Jasmine Martin also found her way into double-figures scoring with 10 points. Bryant, playing in their first ever NEC playoff game, was led in scoring by junior guard Jenniqua Bailey, who netted 14 points off of the bench. Quinnipiac will now play in the semifinal round for the seventh time in program history on Wednesday night, looking for their first semifinal win since 2006.
#2) SACRED HEART 64 (22-9, 13-5), #7) ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN 38 (11-19, 8-10)
Sacred Heart, the number one scoring defense in NEC, spent Sunday afternoon putting on a defensive clinic in their 64-38 win over St. Francis Brooklyn. The Terriers jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but SHU stormed back with an 11-0 run to go on top for good. SFC was held to just eight points in the game’s first 14:30 and just 17 points overall in the first half. The Pioneers defense was relentless, forcing 32 turnovers. The 38 points allowed were the fewest amount allowed in the NEC Tournament since Monmouth’s limited Quinnipiac to just 36 points in the 2011 quarterfinals. Gabrielle Washington led Sacred Heart with 21 points and fell two rebounds shy of what would have been her first career double-double. Morgan Merriman and Blair Koniszewski also had fine afternoons for the Pioneers, netting 13 and 12 points respectively. With the victory, Pioneer head coach Ed Swanson tied former SFU head coach Jenny Przekwas for the most playoff coaching wins in NEC history with 16. He’ll have a chance to break the record when the Pioneers host Przekwas’ old team in the semifinal round. The Terriers finish the season seven wins better than last year, and will return in 2013-14 with all but one player from their current roster.
#4) SAINT FRANCIS 66 (16-14, 10-8), #5) CCSU 63 (16-14, 10-8)
Down a point in the final minute, with their season on the line, Alli Williams took the team on her back and led her Red Flash into the NEC Tournament semifinals. CCSU led 63-62 before Williams sank a clutch layup with 27 seconds remaining to put the Red Flash in front. After a defensive stop, Williams would sink a pair of free throws to give SFU their final margin for victory. Despite being in enemy territory, an enviornment where Saint Francis hadn’t lost a playoff game since before many of the Central players born, the Blue Devils played extremely poised and confident in the first half. Central led the entire first 20 minutes, including going up by as many as 12. They didn’t relinquish the lead for the first time until three minutes had gone by in the second half. Nickia Gibbs led Saint Francis with 20 points, while Alli Williams finished with a double-double, 19 points and 10 rebounds. Playing in her final collegiate game, first team All-Conference performer Jaclyn Babe led all scorers with 27 points for the Blue Devils. The Red Flash have now won 36 out of their last 38 playoff games, including their last 24 straight playoffs games held inside the halls of the Stokes Center. The win also marks the 40th playoff victory in team history, more than any other program in the conference.
#6) MOUNT ST. MARY'S 59 (15-15, 10-8), #3) MONMOUTH 57 (15-15, 11-7) – OT
For the fourth time in six seasons, the number six seed pulled off a first round upset over the third best team in the league during the quarterfinal round. In the first tournament overtime game since 2006, the Mountaineers defeated the two time reigning runner-up Monmouth Hawks 59-57. Just like in the season finale, Monmouth got off to a really slow start, shooting just 19% in the first half. But the comeback train would be in full effect once again, with Monmouth grabbing the lead for the first time at the 14:40 mark on a Carly Thibault three. The game would remain close for the remainder, with both teams trading the lead and neither being able to gain more than a two possession advantage. With 13 seconds left and the Hawks down one, Alysha Womack went to the charity stripe but could only convert one of two to tie the game at 49. Mount would have a chance to win in regulation but Sydney Henderson’s layup attempt was swatted away by Sara English. In the bonus session, the game was tied at 57 with the Hawks holding possession and 38 seconds remaining on the clock. Tara Lonergan would steal the inbounds pass, leading to an Ashley Christie go ahead basket with eight seconds to go. MU would have one last chance to score, but Gaby Singer’s jumper fell short as time expired. The Mount escaped with their first postseason win since the 2001 tournament semifinals, ending a ten game tournament skid. Sydney Henderson led the Mount with 17 points, while Jacqueline Brewer recorded 12 points and six rebounds. With usual playoff standout Abby Martin in foul trouble throughout the day, Sara English did a fantastic job filling her role, leading the Hawks with a double-double, 13 points and 12 rebounds.
NEC WBB TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL FIRST GLANCE
#6) Mount St. Mary’s (15-15, 10-8) at #1) Quinnipiac Bobcats (28-2, 18-0)
Game Info: TD Bank Sports Center, Hamden, CT
All-Time Series: QU leads 19-7
2013 Regular Season Results: 2/4: QU 78-55 in Emmitsburg, MD
Playoff History: QU leads 2-0…QU won 66-56 in 2008 QF and 65-61 in 2012 QF
Notes: The Quinnipiac Bobcats look to advance to their second NEC championship game when they meet Mount St. Mary’s in the postseason for the second straight year, this time in the semifinal round. Quinnipiac extended their win streak to 20 games with a first round victory over Bryant. The Bobcats have won more games this season than any other NEC team in history and are looking to become the fifth NEC team to finish the regular season undefeated and win the tournament championship. The Bobcats have lost in their last two semifinal appearances, in 2008 and 2012. The 2008 team was the only other regular season championship team in program history. Their run was stopped in the semifinals by LIU Brooklyn. Quinnipiac is looking to be 23rd #1 seed to reach the final in the now 27 year history of this event. On the other side, the Mountaineers became the fourth #6 seed to advance to the semifinals in the last six years with their first round road win at Monmouth. Despite the recent run of quarterfinal success, no #6 seed has made the final since Wagner in 2000. This year Mount won a playoff game for the first time since 2001, when they beat Sacred Heart in the semis only to be defeated in the final by LIU Brooklyn. It will be an exciting matchup of guards, as two of the top guards in the league will be on display in Quinnipiac’s Felicia Barron and Mount’s Sydney Henderson. In the only regular season meeting this year, another Bobcat guard, Boo Abshire, recorded a season high 17 points in the QU win.
#4) Saint Francis Red Flash (16-14, 10-8) at #2) Sacred Heart Pioneers (22-9, 13-5)
Game Info: William H. Pitt Center, Fairfield, CT
All-Time Series: SHU leads 15-8
2013 Regular Season Results: 1/19: SHU 71-50 in Loretto, PA…2/18: SHU 81-56 in Fairfield, CT
Playoff History: SHU leads 1-0…SHU won 74-66 in the 2009 Championship Game
Notes: The Pioneers and Red Flash have combined to win the last four and nine of the last eleven NEC Championships. The last time these two tangled in the postseason, it was the 2009 NEC Championship Game, when the Pioneers ended the Red Flash’s record of 29 straight playoff wins, bringing the championship back to Fairfield. Recently the Pioneers have had the upper hand in the series, winning the last five straight meetings, including a season sweep in 2013. The first meeting this season was the spark that the Pioneers needed to get to this point. After a 1-3 conference start, their worst four game start since joining the NEC, the Pioneers went into Loretto and came away with a 21 point win in a NEC-TV game. Since then, SHU has won 13 out of their last 15 games, advancing to the semifinals for a ninth time in 14 tournament appearances. Ed Swanson can break Jenny Przekwas all-time NEC playoff coaching wins record against her former team. Przekwas was the architect that helped paved the way for the tradition that is Saint Francis playoff women’s basketball. The Red Flash have won a tournament record 11 championships and 36 out of their last 38 playoff games. The key matchup will be Saint Francis’ #2 NEC scoring offense going up against the Pioneers #1 NEC scoring defense. The Red Flash pour in over 68 points a night, while the Pioneers only allow about 56. Sacred Heart is also coming off a playoff game against the Terriers where they allowed only 38 points, a near record setting performance.