Women’s Basketball Defeats Fairfield in MAAC Quarterfinals, Wins 50th Straight Conference Game

Kevin Higgins

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Photo: Liz Flynn

Sometimes, the spectacular can look routine.

 

If you do something the same way for a long enough amount of time, it might start to go unnoticed. However, nothing about 50 straight conference wins – highlighted by back-to-back undefeated seasons in conference play – should be overlooked.

 

On Friday, the sun rose, the sky was blue, and the Quinnipiac Bobcats women’s basketball team (24-6, 19-0 MAAC) won another MAAC game. The Bobcats handedly defeated the Fairfield Stags (11-20, 7-12 MAAC) in the MAAC Tournament quarterfinals by a score of 63-48.

 

“Albany has been very kind to us,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said of her team’s performance in the annual postseason tournament. “We obviously have cut down many a net (here)… it just brings back so many good memories.”

 

The game will also be memorable for Quinnipiac seniors Jen Fay and Aryn McClure, who put up 13 and 15 points, respectively. Fay was a physical force on both ends of the floor on this afternoon, while McClure used her handles and speed to beat defenders off the dribble to create countless chances. Fay credited their strong showings to the team’s veteran presence.

 

“We’re really experienced players… we’ve done this before,” Fay said with a grin. “We know we’ve just got to keep everyone settled, and having five seniors out there really helps that.”

 

Another helpful aspect of the game for Quinnipiac was its defense. Fabbri’s squad started the game on fire with a 12-0 run, then suffocated the Stags for the entirety of the quarter. Active hands and feet gave the Bobcats a commanding 16-5 lead after one, but one Fairfield player brought her team back in the second quarter.

 

Stags senior guard Casey Foley put together one of the best individual performances any player has had against Quinnipiac’s vaunted defense, and the second and third quarters could serve as her own personal highlight reel. Foley sniped her way to 18 points on Friday, as she was lights out from three (5-8 3pt FG). She hit all types of shots: open, contested, off the dribble, catch and shoot; you name it, she hit it. Her sharpshooting spurred her teammates as well, and Fairfield found itself down just 9 at the half.

 

In the third quarter, momentum was squarely on Fairfield’s side. Their defense forced the Bobcats to go almost four minutes without hitting a field goal, and Foley, along with MAAC Rookie of the Year Lou Lopez-Senechal and Andrea Hernangomez, forced the deficit to just six with the ball in their hands. Foley lined up what looked to be an open three to make it a one possession game, but Fay had other ideas.

 

Fay swatted the shot all the way to midcourt, where she picked up the ball and took it to the other end of the floor. Foley caught up with her and flailed her arms in Fay’s face with desperation, but it was no use. Fay got the bucket and the foul in a play that completely shifted the course of the game.

 

“Yeah I just tried to run out there, not let the shot get off… just ran down the court as fast as I could,” Fay explained with a slightly bemused chuckle. “She caught up with me a little bit, but I just took the hit and was able to finish it.”

 

The game was essentially finished just a few minutes later. Fairfield never got closer than that for the rest of the way, and the Bobcats’ defense finally put the clamps down on Foley and Co. After an impressive 20-minute stretch, the Stags finally grew tired, and their lack of bench production – Hernangomez was the only Fairfield player not in the starting lineup to score – came back to bite them. Quinnipiac ended the third on a dominant 9-0 run, and they entered the final period with a 15-point lead.

 

“It is a game of runs,” McClure said. “We knew they were going to eventually start hitting… but we kind of stopped them and gained that momentum back… it’s also playoffs, so it’s going to get close. You’ve just got to stay cool, calm and collected. We just kept pushing on the gas and got the dub.”

 

Quinnipiac did, in fact, get the dub with a calmly played fourth quarter. The Bobcats simply wore down a thin Fairfield rotation, and the result was never in doubt through the final 10 minutes. Fabbri is just happy to play another day.

 

“Great start in the first quarter and an even better end in the fourth quarter,” Fabbri said. “Live to see Sunday.”

 

Quinnipiac will indeed be playing on Sunday at 11 a.m. against the winner of fourth-seeded Monmouth and fifth-seeded Canisius. As for Fairfield, however, their season comes to an end.