HAMDEN, Conn. - The Quinnipiac University women's basketball team remains alive in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot in the 2010 Northeast Conference Tournament with a 78-69 win Thursday night against Monmouth at the TD Bank Sports Center. Junior Courtney Kaminski (Dudley, Mass.) scored 25 points and senior Kathleen Neyens (Jaffrey, N.H.) added 21 as the Bobcats kept their postseason hopes intact, improving their NEC mark to 6-11 this season and 11-17 overall. The Hawks already had clinched a playoff spot prior to game and dropped to 10-7 in league games this season and are 15-13 overall. The win gives Quinnipiac the season sweep of Monmouth for the first time in program history.
"I think our defense was not as sharp to start the second half," Head Coach Tricia Fabbri said. "But the perimeter shooting of Kathleen (Neyens) really sparked our offense down the stretch."
With Quinnipiac holding a narrow lead in the opening minutes of the first half, Neyens, Kaminski and freshman guard Ryann Simmons (Norwalk, Conn.) started to put some distance between the teams. A conventional three-point play followed by a straight-away basket from downtown from Simmons helped to give the Bobcats an eight-point lead, 19-11. Another conventional three-point play by Kaminski capped an 11-0 run by the Bobcats.
Neyens had the third three-point play of the first half just over a minute later. She finished the period with six points, while Simmons led all scorers with 10 at the break to help Quinnipiac to the nine-point advantage, 38-29, after one period.
Monmouth stormed out of the gates to start the second half, tying the score at 41-41 five and a half minutes into the period. The Hawks would take the lead midway through the second, 57-56, after Gabby Singer sank a mid-range jump shot. That would be the last lead of the game for the Hawks as Kaminski and Neyens took over in the final seven minutes of play. Clutch shooting from the outside from Neyens, combined with key post play and lay-ups from Kaminski helped the Bobcats secure the nine-point win, 78-69.
Kaminski finished the game 11-for-11 from the free-throw line, while Neyens was also perfect, connecting on all six of her attempts from the charity stripe. As a team, the Bobcats hit on 22-of-24 free throws, while Monmouth missed key chances to get back into the game and finished just 9-of-16 in the game.
Sophomore Jacinda Dunbar (Edison, N.J.) was the fourth Quinnipiac player in double figures in scoring as she finished the game with 10 points. Junior Lailah Pratt (Palmyra, N.J.) was the game's top rebounder, pulling down nine in the win, while Kaminski just missed her eighth double-double of the season, finishing with eight boards. Pratt also recorded a career-high six assists, while Neyens matched her career high with five steals in the final home game of the season.
Monmouth's Abby Martin was the Hawks' top scorer, posting 15 points in the game on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor. Guard Erin Rooney had 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while Gabby Singer was the third player in double figures for Monmouth, finishing with 10 in the loss.
The Bobcats remain in the playoff picture with the win, but need some help from Wagner and Mount St. Mary's this weekend. With both teams holding a one-game lead over Quinnipiac entering Thursday night's game, the Bobcats' victory coped with both losing means all three are now tied with 6-11 NEC marks. Mount St. Mary's owns the tie-breaker with the Bobcats by virtue of a season sweep, while Wagner and Quinnipiac split, but hold the best record against the other two.
Quinnipiac will look to help its own cause with a win in the final regular season game of the year on Saturday afternoon. The Bobcats will travel to Hackensack, N.J., to take on 11th place Fairleigh Dickinson at the Rothman Center at 4 p.m.