Quinnipiac claws back to beat Saint Peter’s 70-69 at the buzzer


Steven McAvoy

All season long, Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri has been professing the concept of staying gritty and playing what she called “smart, collected and composed basketball.”

Following back-to-back losses to Rider and Fairfield, the Bobcats found themselves slipping in the MAAC standings with only two weeks remaining in the season. Shooting only 17% from deep over their past four outings, the Bobcats were desperate for a win as they welcomed Saint Peter’s to the People’s United Center Thursday night.

The Peacocks had never won in Hamden, and they made the Bobcats work for their 70-69 victory. On the back of redshirt junior Tianah Thornton, who finished with 27 points, the Peacocks led by seven heading into halftime.

With their backs against the wall, the Bobcats needed an answer. Quinnipiac came out of the half swinging with a 10-4 run.

“I loved our response out of the locker room to win the third and fourth quarters,” Fabbri said.

Taylor Herd, who had been in a 1-16 dry spell from three before the game, tallied 18 points, leading the team in scoring, but it was the effort on the boards that made the difference. The Bobcats’ offense pounced with gusto, reeling in 56 rebounds, tying their season-high, including 27 on the offensive end. Behind the monster effort was the front court of Jaden Ward, Paige Warfel, and Mikala Morris, who collectively hauled in almost half of the teams rebounds with 33.

“We did a great job of regrouping as a team outside of the locker room,” added Herd.

Morris logged her third double-double of the campaign, but it was Ward who garnered most of the attention making her effort known in all facets of the game. Ward flirted with a double-double, recording 13 points, nine boards, and added three assists, blocks, and steals to cap off a career outing.

“Jaden has been pivotal,” Fabbri said. “She’s been invaluable in her role coming off the bench.”

With the end in sight and the game coming down to the wire, it was Warfel and Mackenzie Dewees who closed it out for the Bobcats. Dewees recorded a clutch steal and finished at the other end with a huge and-one opportunity to officially turn the tide.

“It was electric. Our bench was crazy, the stands were crazy, it was such a cool moment,” Dewees said. “We had so many moments where we just played so great together, we just clicked, and our defense is what really helped us win.”

The biggest of those moments came with just 0.9 seconds remaining. Tied at 69, the Bobcats came storming up the floor, and following a missed jumper by Dewees, Warfel grabbed the rebound and was fouled in the act of shooting.

Fabbri called it “the biggest free throw to date of our season.” Warfel hit the first and missed the second intentionally, as the Bobcats secured the narrow one-point victory.

With the MAAC tournament in sight, the Bobcats snap a two-game skid and sit tied at third in the conference following Fairfield’s loss to Rider. With only three games remaining, the Bobcats draw top-seeded Marist on Saturday, followed by a road trip against Niagara and Canisius, both of whom sit toward the bottom quarter of the conference.

“It’s this time of the year to go in, pull one from the ashes.” Fabbri said. “It’s a great confidence booster for this team right now when we needed it the most.”