The Quinnipiac University women's basketball begins play in its 10th straight Northeast Conference Tournament on Saturday as the No 7 seed. The Bobcats will face the second-seeded Long Island Blackbirds in the day's third game, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at DeGol Arena in Loretto, Pa. Saint Francis (Pa.) will serve as the host site for all of the NEC Tournament Quarter and Semifinal matchups. Quinnipiac earned the berth in the conference postseason with two wins in the final weekend of the regular season against Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson to finish 7-11 in league play.
Saturday's game can be heard online through the WQUN feed. Paul Pacelli will handle the play-by-play duties, while Patrick D. Salvas will add color analysis. The NEC will provide a free live video feed through NortheastConference.TV as well as live stats. All can be accessed by clicking the appropriate links above.
Scouting the Blackbirds
Long Island enters the weekend riding an eight-game winning streak. That eight-game streak is the second longest entering the tournament by any team in the NEC, trailing just the top-seeded Robert Morris Colonials' streak of 12. The two teams met just one time this season with LIU taking the 66-54 win on Feb. 13 in Hamden. Long Island qualified for the tournament a year after failing to do so, finishing in ninth in the conference standings in 2009. This season, the Blackbirds have two of the most prolific scores in the NEC in Ashley Palmer and Chelsi Johnson. Palmer, the 2009 NEC Rookie of the Year, leads LIU with 16.6 points per game in league play this season, while Johnson averaged 14.3 ppg over the course of the season.
Quinnipiac is just 6-10 all time in the NEC Tournament. The last time the Bobcats won a conference tournament game was in the quarterfinals of the 2007-08 season against Mount St. Mary's. The top-seeded Bobcats would go on to lose in the next game against LIU as the Blackbirds were the hosts for the first two rounds. Quinnipiac has reached the league title game once before, in 2006, falling to Sacred Heart by four, 69-65.
They Got Here
The Bobcats made it into the field of eight in the 2010 NEC Tournament with two clutch wins in the final weekend of the regular season. Quinnipiac defeated Monmouth, 78-69, Thursday night in the final home game of the year before going on the road to defeat Fairleigh Dickinson, 68-51, to lock up the seventh seed. Losses by Wagner and Mount St. Mary's in the final weekend also helped the Bobcats clinch the berth.
of Her Game
Junior center Courtney Kaminski (Dudley, Mass.) was honored as the NEC Player of the Week for the first time in her career this past week. She was recognized as the league's top player over the weekend after back-to-back 20-plus point performances helped get her team into the post season. Scoring a game-high 25 points against Monmouth and 22 against FDU to go along with 13 boards against the Knights for her team-leading eighth double-double of the season earned Kaminski the honor.
Likes the Knights
For just the second time in her career, junior forward Lailah Pratt (Palmyra, N.J.) pulled down double-digit rebounds in a game on Saturday. Pratt recorded a game- and career-high 15 boards against Fairleigh Dickinson. The only other time when Pratt went over nine boards in a game was earlier in the season when she had 10, also against the Knights.
The Bobcats used just two players off their bench in the final game of the regular season. Junior Alyssa Jann (Westford, Mass.) was the team's top reserve, coming into the game for 29 total minutes of action. In that time, she shot 5-of-7 from the floor and finished with 14 points, second on the team to Kaminski's 22. Of the five made field goals in the game, Jann connected on four from three-point range.
Figure Sure Helps
Quinnipiac's 56 rebounds against the Knights gave it 1,206 total boards this season. That is five more than Bryant's 1,201 for the top spot in the NEC. The Bobcats are also averaging an NEC-best 41.6 rebounds per game this season. Quinnipiac also led the league in defensive rebounds per game this season, averaging 27.83 a game, more than a full rebound ahead of Bryant.
From the Line
The Bobcats finished with the second best free-throw percentage in the NEC in 2009-10. As a team, they shot .725 from the charity stripe, with Kaminski leading the way as the third-best individual free-throw shooter this season. Kaminski connected on 85.7 percent (120-140) of her chances from the line as a junior. The 120 free throws are the third most by a Quinnipiac player in a single season since joining Div. I.
First-year guard Lisa Lebak (Robbinsville, N.J.) finished her freshman regular season fifth in the NEC in assists per game. Lebak set up her teammates regularly throughout the season, averaging 4.14 assists per game. Her 116 total assists this past year were the sixth most among all players in the conference and the highest by a freshman. She became the first freshman since Erin Kerner in 2005-06 to record 100 or more assists in their first season with the Bobcats. The 116 assists also tie former assistant coach Kara Cassidy for fourth in the program's single-season record book.
Fifth and Final Time
Senior Kathleen Neyens (Jaffrey, N.H.) will be playing in her final NEC Tournament with the Bobcats this season. The fifth-year senior has been a part of teams that have gone to the conference tourney in each of her five seasons with the team, including as the No. 1 seed in 2008 after claiming a share of the NEC Regular Season Championship with a 16-2 conference mark.