Boardwalk Breakdown: What challenges will the MAAC give Quinnipiac Women’s Basketball?


Photos: Liz Flynn

Steven McAvoy

The MAAC tournament is familiar territory for Quinnipiac Women’s Hoops.

Since 2012, Tricia Fabbri’s squad has been a consistent threat to win the MAAC title, and this season is no different.

Led by premier playmakers Mikala Morris and Mackenzie DeWees, the Bobcats head to Atlantic City as the No. 2 seed with a prime chance for more hardware.

But first, survive and advance three games. Every team will present a unique challenge the Bobcats will need to adjust to.

Here’s what they’ll need to do against every MAAC opponent in order to hoist their fifth trophy in six seasons and once again receive their invite to the dance.

Stop No. 1: The Quarterfinal

The first step will come Wednesday at 2:30 where the Bobcats will face the winner of the Rider Broncs and Monmouth Hawks.

#7 Rider Broncs

Challenge: Get More Rebounds (not from Morris or DeWees)

Rider has size, and it’s been a major factor in them winning ballgames. Raphaela Toussaint leads the Broncs in offensive boards with 63, good for fourth in the MAAC. Defensively, Daija Moses and Victoria Toomey are both top ten rebounders as well.

While Quinnipiac does boast the conference’s best rebounder in Morris and sixth-best in DeWees, the Bobcats need to get more bodies involved. It’ll also help in the long run if they’re faced with one of the best rebounding teams in the nation later in the tournament.

#10 Monmouth Hawks

Challenge: Capitalize on Turnovers

Something of note for Monmouth: they’re very good at giving up the basketball. The Hawks give up the ball a whopping 19.6 times per game meaning they give up the basketball almost 26 times per 100 possessions.

The Bobcats are above-average at forcing turnovers, at just over 17 times per game. Capitalizing on the Hawks’ misfortunes will give the Bobcats a break in case of a rough shooting night.

Stop No. 2: The Semifinal

Following their quarterfinal round the Bobcats will get Thursday off in order to prepare for their next opponent, but unlike the quarterfinal, the competition ramps up ten-fold. 

#3 Saint Peter’s Peacocks

Challenge: Make Possessions Count, Don’t Allow Second Chance Points

A common theme from Saint Peter’s on both the men and women’s side is their knack for rebounding the basketball. The Peacocks are the best team in the MAAC on both the offensive and defensive glass.

First year forwards Sky Castro and Ajia James are two of the top three offensive rebounders in the conference sandwiched between, who else, Mikala Morris. On the defensive end, James is second in the MAAC while Castro is fifth. Another prominent rebounder is senior guard Taiah Thornton, who logged two of her highest rebounding performances against the Bobcats in January.

This will be one of the Bobcats biggest challenges of the tournament, as the Bobcats have an offensive efficiency rating of .953, meaning they score just below a point per possession. The number is good, but it needs to be better if Quinnipiac wants to advance.

#6 Iona Gaels

Challenge: Keep Possession of the Basketball

The Gaels love to play hard-nosed defense thanks to Juana Camilion.

The junior is one of the best on-ball defenders in the nation averaging a MAAC leading 3.5 steals per game. That number also makes her the third best pick pocketer in the NCAA.

Its uncharacteristic when the Bobcats turn the ball over, but beware if they do against Iona, the Gaels are one of the more efficient shooting teams in the conference, and the more they take away, the more points they tack on.

Stop No. 3: The Final 

The Bobcats to this point lucked out. While a potential matchup against Iona or Saint Peter’s will be tough, the other side of the bracket is much more intense in both semifinal games. Thankful for them, they’ll only have to play one of these teams, but it’ll be for all the marbles. Expect these teams’ absolute best on Championship Saturday.

#1 Marist Red Foxes

Challenge: Fight for Everything on Offense 

The Marist defense is elite. The Red Foxes are the third best team in the nation in scoring defense allowing only 50.8 points per game, 20th in defensive three-point percentage (34.8%) and second best in the nation in personal fouls per game at just under 13. Because of this insane defensive core, Marist is 29th in the nation in scoring margin outscoring opponents by 12 points.

The Bobcats average the most points per game in the MAAC at 64.2, but they’re middle of the pack in their shooting percentages all over the court. Don’t rule out the Bobcats if they have to face Marist, but it’ll by far be the hardest team they’ll need to get through.

#4 Fairfield Stags

Challenge: Neutralize Lou Lopez-Senechal

Tied for 99th in the nation averaging 17 points per game, junior Lou Lopez-Senechal has been a force in the MAAC this season from all over the floor.

The French guard ranks second in the MAAC in shooting from deep (41%), as well as third from the field (42.8%) and the stripe (82%).

The Stags’ offense runs through her, and while sharpshooter Sam Lewis is one of the best shooters from range, if Lopez-Senechal can be neutralized by a Quinnipiac backcourt who’s one of the best in the MAAC at on-ball defense, the Bobcats will cruise to victory.

#5 Manhattan Jaspers

Challenge: Contain the Manhattan Hydra on Offense

 The Jaspers are one of the strongest defensive units in the nation finishing in the top 100 in multiple categories. The Bobcats best chance at beating the Jaspers will have to come from beating their top offensive options in Courtney Warley, Emily LaPointe, and Dee Dee Davis. 

Warley is one of the best players in the nation in rebounding (10.6 per game – 28th) and a top three rebounder in the MAAC both on the offensive and defensive glass. She’s also a top player in the MAAC in scoring (11.3 points per game), steals (2.2 per game – 6th) and blocks (1 per game – 9th).

LaPointe, the unanimous 2020 MAAC Rookie of the Year is the team’s main facilitator while Davis is the team’s top shooting option on the perimeter.

It’s impossible to neutralize all of them, so the Bobcats will need to focus on containing at least one of them or two if lucky.

#8 Niagara Purple Eagles

Challenge: Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

Niagara turns over the ball the most in the MAAC.

On the flip side, the Purple Eagles are top three in turnovers forced and have three players in the top 15 in steals in the MAAC.

The answer to this is easy: capitalize on the turnovers forced while limiting the turnovers allowed.

#9 Siena Saints

Challenge: Stop Isis Young

The best scorer in the MAAC, Isis Young is a scoring machine

In two games against the Bobcats, Young tallied 41 points, the most points allowed to a single player all season.

She was a pain in the Bobcats’ side in their weekend set, and if Siena manages to slip past the field into the finals, she’s the only thing stopping Quinnipiac from a trophy.