HAMDEN, Conn. – For the first time in program history, the Quinnipiac University women's basketball team solidified a spot in the NCAA Tournament with a 72-33 win over Saint Francis University Sunday in the NEC Championship. In a game that was nationally televised on ESPNU, the Bobcats improved to 30-2 overall and will partake in the opening round of the Big Dance on either Saturday, March 23rd or Sunday, March 24th.
"I'm just so thrilled for the program to win its first NEC Championship, so pleased for 15 young ladies who came together and played as a team," said head coach Tricia Fabbri. "I'm so excited for my staff who has been phenomenal all year round in putting together a great roster for us to go out and compete with every team on the schedule. We are just thrilled that John Lahey, Mark Thompson and Jack McDonald are the leaders of this university who allow us to go out and do what we have to do, what we want to do, and what we need to do to make this program a winner. And its all of their support from John Lahey all the way down that has made today possible and we are just really excited that we were finally able to go out, get it and bring it home."
Quinnipiac displays an impressive resume for the NCAA women's basketball committee, joining the likes of five teams, No. 1 Baylor, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Duke, with 30 or more wins this season. The Championship Selection Show will take place on Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN. Prior to today's game, ESPN analyst Charlie Creme had Quinnipiac as a #13 seed in the West Region, matched up against the #4 seed Georgia in Newark, Del.
Sunday's game was all about perfection for Quinnipiac, who went through the NEC without a hiccup all season long. The lopsided victory in the final game set two Northeast Conference Tournament records, including largest margin of victory in a championship game (39). Quinnipiac also set the new mark for fewest points allowed in an NEC Tournament game and fewest points allowed in an NEC Championship game (33).
Quinnipiac was led by junior Brittany McQuain (Independence, Mo.) who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds en route to an All-Tournament MVP selection. Felicia Barron (Springfield, Mass.) and Jasmine Martin (Sicklerville, N.J.) joined McQuain on the All-Tournament team after chipping in with nine points and eight points, respectively. Barron added five rebounds and four steals, while Samantha Guastella (Red Bank, N.J.) poured in 10 points to go along with seven rebounds.
After a skittish start in front of a healthy crowd of 1,472 people, Quinnipiac settled in nicely through the remainder of the first half. Trailing 3-2 after three minutes of play, the Bobcats boasted a 9-0 run behind four points from McQuain to open an 11-3 lead. Quinnipiac's defense played a large role in its success, holding the Red Flash to 1-of-13 through the first eight minutes and to just 22 percent in the first half. The Bobcats' lead quickly ballooned to 18 points and eventually carried a 32-15 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second half featured much of the same success for Quinnipiac, outscoring SFU 20-2 over the next 11 minutes of play. The lead was pushed to 40 points two minutes later at the 6:28 mark, allowing the Bobcats to coast their 15th straight win at the Bank.
Quinnipiac dominated in nearly every facet of the game, but defense proved to be the difference in the outcome. The Bobcats held Saint Francis University to just 23.6 percent from the floor, while forcing 20 turnovers from the visitors. Quinnipiac converted those turnovers into 26 points on the other end, which included 16 points on the fast break. Rebounding also went in favor of the Bobcats, 54-38.
Coach Fabbri, now 273-242 in her career at the Q, stressed the importance of Quinnipiac's all-around team effort - evidenced by 11 players in the scoring column. Gillian Abshire (Washington, D.C.) finished with six points and a team-high eight rebounds; Lisa Lebak (Robbinsville, N.J.) had six points, including two big threes in the first half; Camryn Warner (Keene, N.H.) tallied four points and three assists; Maria Napolitano (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Katie Carroll (West Lake, Ohio) each had three points and Ellen Cannon (West Chester, Pa.) concluded the scoring column with two.
Quinnipiac fans should refer to the official website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for schedule additions 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.