FAIRFIELD, Conn. The Quinnipiac University women's basketball team's second-half comeback came up just short as it fell to Monmouth, 69-67, in the Northeast Conference Quarterfinals at Sacred Heart's Pitt Center. Senior Erin Kerner (Erie, Pa.) scored 29 points in her final game with the Bobcats, including 17 in the second half. The loss ends Quinnipiac's season with an overall record of 18-11. Monmouth moves on to face No. 1 Sacred Heart in the semifinals tomorrow afternoon.
Kerner's 29 points were a game high, while also adding four steals and three assists. Senior Brianna Rooney (Guilford, Conn.) added 11 points and a game-high four assists. Mandy Pennewell (West Chester, Pa.) scored four points and had two assists in her final game as a member of the Bobcats.
"They've been incredible young ladies," said Head Coach Tricia Fabbri. "I'm so proud to have had them and I wish our time together could've ended a little differently."
The Bobcats fell behind by 20 points, 32-12, with 5:26 remaining in the first half. Monmouth's Jennifer Bender scored 14-first half points, helping the Hawks get out to an early lead and never relinquish in it the opening period. Kerner led the Bobcats with 12 points in the first on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor. Quinnipiac mounted a late-half comeback to get back into the game. A three-pointer by Rooney followed by a quick steal led to a fast-break layup by Kerner to cut the deficit to eight, 32-24. Quinnipiac would build on that momentum as it ended the half on 16-1 run to pull within five at the break, 33-28.
The second half saw Monmouth maintain its lead throughout; building a 12-point lead, 59-47, with 5:18 left in the game. Junior Kathleen Neyens (Jaffrey, N.H.), combined with Kerner, helped spark the Bobcats' late second-half surge. Neyens scored all of her nine points with under three and a half minutes to play in the game.
Missed free-throws by the Hawks in the final minute allowed the Bobcats to make it a one possession game. After Monmouth's Marbely Montas missed two free throws with 19 seconds remaining, Kerner found Neyens behind the three-point line on the left wing for the open look. Neyens connected on the shot, pulling her team to within two, 69-67, for just the third time in the game.
After a foul on the inbounds, Marisa Jimenez went to the line with a chance to put the Hawks up by four. The Monmouth guard missed both free throws, allowing Kerner to move the ball upcourt looking for the tying basket with eight seconds remaining. Kerner cut into the lane, but was stripped of the ball on the way up by Montas as the Hawks held on for the victory.
"I thought we took it down to the wire," Fabbri said. "We put ourselves in a position to force overtime, but it just didn't work out for us that way. There is no doubt Erin (Kerner) is the player I wanted to have the ball with this game on the line."
For the game, Monmouth outrebounded Quinnipiac, 42-33, while also outshooting the Bobcats, 43.9 percent (25-57) to 38.6 percent (22-57). The teams we almost equal in free-throws, with Quinnipiac edging its opponent, 73.9 percent (17-of-23) to 57.1 percent (16-of-28).