BROOKLYN, N.Y. The Quinnipiac University women's basketball team defeated Northeast Conference opponent Long Island, 76-59, at the Wellness Center to clinch a berth in the NEC Tournament. Erin Kerner (Erie, Pa.) had her eighth 20-point game of the season with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. Mandy Pennewell (West Chester, Pa.) added 18 points for the Bobcats. The win improves Quinnipiac's conference mark to 8-7 and 15-10 overall, while the Blackbirds fall to 2-13 in league play and 7-19 overall with the loss and are eliminated from post-season play.
Pennewell's 18 points came on 7-of-17 shooting from the field. Despite not scoring in the first 20 minutes of play, senior Brianna Rooney (Guilford, Conn.) had 15 second-half points, while adding a game-high six assists. Jacinda Dunbar (Edison, N.J.) and Kathleen Neyens (Jaffrey, N.H.) led the team with six rebounds each. Long Island's Chelsi Johnson and Ashley Palmer each scored 19 points in the defeat. Palmer added 10 rebounds for a double-double.
"Basketball is a game of momentum and we are lucky to have built up that lead early," said Head Coach Tricia Fabbri. "The remainder of this season and the success we have depends on the play of the three seniors and today's game showed that."
Pennewell helped Quinnipiac to an early lead in the game. The senior guard scored all of her 10 first-half points in the first six and a half minutes of play as the Bobcats built the lead to as much as 17. Long Island's Palmer matched Pennewell with 10 first-half points of her own. Kerner shot 3-of-5 from the field and had nine points in the opening period as the Bobcats took a 35-20 halftime lead into the locker room.
The second half saw Quinnipiac get into foul trouble early, but was able to maintain a 16-point lead, 45-29, through the first five minutes of play. Kerner and Rooney each had three-point field goals for the Bobcats in the opening minutes of the second half.
Midway through the second, the Bobcats began to pull away, building the lead to 22 with just under 12 minutes remaining, 56-34. Pennewell and Rooney led the second-half surge, combining to score 17 of the team's first 21 points in the half.
Long Island went on a late second-half run, pulling to within 10, 61-51, with under four minutes to play, but it was not enough as Quinnipiac held on for the 17-point victory. Johnson scored all of her 19 points in the second half, including the first eight of the half to help the Blackbirds cut into the Bobcats' lead. Johnson's strong second half was not enough as Quinnipiac put the Blackbirds away in the final minutes for the 76-59 win.
For the game, Long Island outrebounded Quinnipiac 33-28. The Bobcats outshot the Blackbirds 48.1 percent (26-54) to 38.1 percent (19-49). The Bobcats missed just three free throws in the game, shooting 17-of-20 (85 percent), while Long Island connected on 19 of its 22 (86 percent) opportunities from the line.
Quinnipiac returns to action on Monday, Feb. 23 when it hosts Fairleigh Dickinson. The Bobcats and Knights are set to tip-off from the TD Banknorth Sports Center at 7 p.m.