Bobcats clinch three seed in MAAC Tournament with win over Fairfield

Connor Coar

On a Saturday afternoon that was showered with tears and celebration, the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team defeated the Fairfield Stags by a score of 52-39 in the final basketball game played at M&T Bank arena for the 2022-2023 season. 

In the first half of the first quarter, Fairfield came out on the attack, as they jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead. After the nerves wore off, the Bobcats went on a 13-4 run that saw six different players score on that run. 

Hot starts in the opening quarter have been a piece of the Bobcats success but not the entire puzzle, as they have outscored opponents in the first quarter since they last played the Stags on Feb. 11th. 

“We are going to set the tone defensively,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said following the win. “Our defense really sets the tone for us that we know we can hang in there when we don’t get that initial lead.” 

Even though graduate student Mackenzie Dewees did not make her way to the starting lineup until February after battling back from an injury, the two-time All-MAAC first-team player gives a lot of credit to things that do not require a lot of skill. 

“We put a lot of heart and soul into the game,” Dewees said. “I think having a hot start really propels the rest of the game. If we come out cold, it sets the tone. I think that’s when teams really jump on us.” 

As they headed into the second quarter, the Bobcats picked up right where they left off. The Bobcats were able to extend their lead from three points to 10 at halftime. 

With Mikala Morris and Grace Labarge sidelined with injury, senior Cur’Tiera Haywod and graduate student Mary Baskerville stepped up big for Fabbri’s squad when they were on the floor. 

Haywood has been manning the long-range duties, finishing the night with two buckets from behind the arc. Baskerville on the other hand has been performing inside scoring a team-high 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting. 

“Coming from Providence I played with another big [forward] who also liked to play on the outside,” Baskerville said. “Just getting used to where she [Haywood] wanted to play and where she wanted to strike and I kind of just played off of her and just did my thing.”

The offense will always be talked about at the end of the day, but defense for the Bobcats team continues to be a strength. 

Quinnipiac leads the MAAC in opponent three-point percentage and field goal percentage. That story remained consistent for Fairfield, not making their first three-pointer until 1:39 remaining in the third quarter. 

Fabbri always knew that even throughout this season when things were not always going their way, it was only a matter of time before they started getting into rhythm and playing like the preseason number one in the conference.

“It was hitchy,” Fabbri said. “I think that hitchiness through the nonconference was we were trying to answer those questions and get better.” 

That hitchiness that Fabbri eluded to and the flow they were not able to find finally cultivated into the team winning their last 12 of 13 games before heading down to Atlantic City for this year’s conference tournament. 

“I just know that we are always going to give ourselves a really great chance with the personnel we have,” Fabbri said. “Players stepping up in their roles and then more players having an opportunity to come off the bench and taking advantage of it.’

As the Bobcats clinched the three seed and look forward to the MAAC tournament on March 7-11, the old adage still remains: it is a whole new season. 

Tournament season is drastically different from the regular season where teams are playing two to three games a week to three games in three days. That many games at a Division I level can be challenging for anyone, but the Bobcats have a simple solution to combat the rigorous schedule. 

“Just making sure that we are mentally tough,” Baskerville said. “We will have treatment and take time off, wake up the next day and be ready to fight.”