No. 2 Quinnipiac advances to semifinals after coming back from 14-point first quarter deficit and winning by 21 against No. 7 Saint Peter’s


Photo: Connor Lawless

Noah Epstein

The Quinnipiac Bobcats were down 18-4 to Saint Peter’s in the first quarter, but then a 35-point swing in their favor helped them advance to the semifinals on Wednesday, winning 63-42.

That 14-point deficit came roughly eight minutes into the game, after Peacocks guard Kendrea Williams made all three field goals she attempted, totaling nine points in the first quarter. 

Quinnipiac had five turnovers in the quarter, and the big blow for the Bobcats came in the first two minutes when senior Mackenzie DeWees, who received All-MAAC First Team honors for the second straight year, picked up her second personal foul. DeWees was then benched for the rest of the first half, playing in just two out of the game’s first 20 minutes. 

Despite DeWees leaving in the first quarter, the Bobcats had help from sophomore Tiera White and junior Sajada Bonner to get them out of the large deficit. White made three out of her four shots and had six points in the first quarter, which helped Quinnipiac go on a 6-0 run at the end of the quarter. The Bobcats also went on a 6-0 run at the start of the second quarter, which was sparked by Bonner making two threes and playing great defense.

“I thought (Sajada Bonner) was really the one who stood the ground and laid down how we’re going to get back into the game defensively when things were kind of spinning out of control,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said.

Once the Bobcats got back into the game, they were rolling. A 10-0 run into halftime had Quinnipiac leading 26-23, and then it was the DeWees show in the third quarter.

The reigning MAAC Player of the Year started the quarter and gave Quinnipiac the spark it was missing in the first half. DeWees scored 11 points in the 10 minutes. Seven of the 11 points were from free-throws because she drew four shooting fouls by driving into the paint, pump faking, and then getting hit over and over. But everytime she got hit hard, she got right back up with a wide smile on her face. The Bobcats had a 10-point lead after the third, and ended up with a 21-point win, with DeWees leading the team with 15 points in 15 minutes played.

“I just think I gotta be myself, and be a calming factor and that leader that we needed on that court at that time,” DeWees said. “And I think I did that.”

One of DeWees’ 11 third-quarter points was the 1,000th point of her Quinnipiac career. She sank a free throw, the Bobcats bench went wild, and public address announcer Dan Collins congratulated DeWees on the achievement. 

“It’s just a result of consistent quality play throughout the course of a career,” Fabbri said.

In addition to DeWees’ great performance, her first-half absence and limited playing time led to lots of other Bobcats contributing to the win. Quinnipiac relied on 10 different point-getters on Wednesday, out-scoring Saint Peter’s 21-2 in bench points. 

“Tiera White really stepped up today in the first half, and Sajada Bonner, and that’s what happens; that’s Quinnipiac basketball,” DeWees said. “You can’t rely on one or two or even five people, it takes all 14.”

One of the 14 was junior Mikala Morris, who had a much better performance in this game than against the Peacocks in the two matchups during the season. Morris, who totaled 10 points and eight rebounds in the two Quinnipiac wins over Saint Peter’s on Jan. 13 and Jan. 17, had 13 points on 6-11 shooting and eight rebounds on Wednesday. Morris had eight points in the second half, all coming near the basket.

“Her presence on the inside is so demanding, and she just really made an impact in the paint today,” DeWees said about the Bobcats center. 

The Bobcats now have an off-day, and they will await the winner of No. 3 Manhattan and No. 11 Canisius, which tips off at noon on Thursday. Quinnipiac will play the winner on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Bobcats’ first semifinal game since the 2018-19 season, when they won the MAAC Championship.