HAMDEN, Conn. – Jasmine Martin (Sicklerville, N.J.) matched a career high of 22 points on Wednesday night, as the top-seeded Quinnipiac University women's basketball team punched a ticket to Northeast Conference Championship game with a 63-56 victory over the sixth-seed Mount St. Mary's at the TD Bank Sports Center. Saint Francis University upended Sacred Heart in the other semifinal match-up – setting the stage for the Bobcats and the Red Flash to square off on Sunday, March 17th at 5 p.m. on Lender Court.
Quinnipiac, now winners in 21 straight games which is tied for the fifth longest in the nation, also set a new QU women's basketball program record with 29 wins in a season. The Bobcats surpassed the previous record of 28 wins which was set back in the 1983-84 campaign.
Martin was fantastic for the Bobcats, recording 15 of her game-high 22 points in the second half of play. She added four rebounds and three steals to a 9-of-19 night from the floor. Brittany McQuain (Independence, Mo.) and Felicia Barron (Springfield, Mass.) joined Martin in double-figures with 10 points apiece, as McQuain finished just shy of a double-double with eight rebounds. Barron added four steals, three assists and two rebounds, and Camryn Warner (Keene, N.H.) finished with seven points.
The first half was played at a blistering pace, which seemed to be advantageous for the hosting Bobcats. Quinnipiac mustered an early lead and extended it to seven points after a Samantha Guastella (Red Bank, N.J.) three-ball with 8:33 remaining in the half. However, Mount St. Mary's hung tough and turned its seven-point deficit into a five point lead before half's end. Selina Mann knocked down the stanza's final basket with 1:19 to go – leaving a 34-29 Mountaineer lead at the break.
It matched the largest halftime deficit of the season for the Bobcats and was only the second time that Quinnipiac trailed on its home court at the half. Nonetheless, earning the NEC's top seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs helped Quinnipiac respond from its rare deficit.
Mount St. Mary's extended its lead to eight points with 16:02 showing on the clock; the last Mount basket over the next two minutes of play. Behind seven points from Martin, Quinnipiac scored 10 straight - which was capped off by another three-pointer from Guastella to regain the lead, 43-41. The Bobcats kept the momentum going with a 10-6 run – granting QU its largest lead of the half, 53-47.
The Mountaineers cut the Bobcat lead to just one point on two separate occasions in the final five minutes, but it was the profound free-throw shooting from Quinnipiac that sealed the deal. The Bobcats went 8-for-8 in the waning minutes; disallowing Mount St. Mary's a chance to regain the lead. With 32 seconds remaining, Gillian Abshire (Washington, D.C.) put the game out of reach for good with a pair from the chalk to solidify a spot in the championship game.
Defense proved to be the difference for Quinnipiac, collecting a turnover margin of plus-nine for the game. The Bobcats turned the ball over 11 times in the first half compared to just one in the second stanza. The Mountaineers coughed the ball up 21 times, which in turn, resulted in 20 points on the other end for the Q. Transition points were also key, as the Bobcats grabbed a 10-2 advantage on the fast-break.
Mount St. Mary's was led by Jacqueline Brewer who finished with 20 points and four rebounds. Tara Lonergan added 10 points and seven rebounds. The Mountaineers, who upset Monmouth in the quarterfinals, conclude their season with a 15-16 record.
Guastella and Abshire each had six points for Quinnipiac. They also combined for 11 rebounds in the win.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets for the NEC Tournament can call the QU Ticket Office at 203-582-3905, visit the official website of Quinnipiac athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com or make a trip to the TD Bank Sports Center Ticket Office.
Quinnipiac fans should refer to the official website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for any schedule changes as well as the latest news, scores and highlights. The 2012-13 Women's Basketball Schedule is also available for download at www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com for all mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as all desktop computers.
Contact: Bethany Buckholz; firstname.lastname@example.org