SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Despite a valiant team effort and several scintillating individual performances, the fourth-seeded Quinnipiac University women's basketball team fell short to second-seeded Marist College, 70-66, in the 2014 MAAC Tournament Championship at the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Monday. Brittany McQuain (Independence, Mo.) led the Bobcats with 20 points and 12 rebounds in the game.
With the loss, Quinnipiac dropped to 21-12 on the season, and will likely earn a bid into a national postseason tournament. The win for Marist was its ninth straight MAAC championship and 10th overall. However, it certainly didn't come easy for the Red Foxes.
McQuain was outstanding for the Bobcats, as she picked up her fifth 20-point game of the season. She was 9-of-19 from the floor with eight of her rebounds coming on the offensive end. She added had a pair of assists and a blocked shot. Samantha Guastella (Red Bank, N.J.) also scored in double-figures, totaling 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. She had eight rebounds and three blocks.
Quinnipiac and Marist came out firing on the final day of the tournament, each converting with consistency on their first few possessions of the game. However, trailing by three, 16-10, with 13:53 left in the first half, Ellen Cannon (West Chester, Pa.) sparked a 12-0 run with a three-pointer from the wing to give Quinnipiac a 22-16 lead.
After a pair of Marist free-throws, Quinnipiac strung together a 13-0 run – this one at the strength of a stifling defense. The Bobcats held Marist without a field goal over a span of 13:25, holding the Red Foxes to just six points by way of the free-throw line. Quinnipiac carried a 35-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Bobcats sustained a comfortable lead to the 11:47 mark of the second half before things got interesting. Marist cut into the nine point lead with a 6-0 spurt, and then played even with Quinnipiac over the next five minutes. With the Bobcats leading 53-48 with 7:15 remaining, Marist scored on three straight trips to take a 59-58 lead.
McQuain went to the free-throw line on the ensuing trip, making 1-of-2 to tie the score, but Marist converted on its next two trips. A free-throw, an empty Bobcat possession, and a layup gave the Red Foxes a 62-59 lead with 4:02 to play.
Quinnipiac battled back to tie the score at 64 apiece thanks to a McQuain layup and a pair of free-throws from Jasmine Martin (Sicklerville, N.J.). Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the final two minutes belonged to Marist. Tori Jarosz put the Red Foxes back in front with a layup and a free-throw to give Marist a 67-64 lead with 1:43 to play. McQuain pulled Quinnipiac to within one with a layup, but Marist secured the victory from the free-throw line in the waning seconds.
Marist's second half surge featured 62.5 percent shooting which including five field goals from long range. Conversely, Quinnipiac shot 32.3 percent from the floor and went 9-of-16 from the charity stripe.
Martin finished with nine points, going 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. Gillian Abshire (Washington, D.C.) had seven points and five assists – setting a new QU record for the most assists in a single season (215). Nikoline Ostergaard (Vedbaek, Denmark) added four points and eight rebounds, and was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. The Bobcats controlled the rebounding edge, 43-37. Quinnipiac corralled 19 on the offensive end.
Marist (27-6) was led by Sydney Coffey who finished with a game-high 23 points. Casey Dulin added 14 and Leanne Ockenden 12. The NCAA Tournament begins either Saturday, March 22 or Sunday, March 23. All roads from the preliminary rounds will lead to Nashville, site of the 2014 NCAA Women's Final Four to be played April 6 and 8 at Bridgestone Arena.
Fans can refer to the official website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for information regarding Bobcat postseason endeavors.
Student-Athletes, parents and fans can download all 2013-14 QU Athletics schedules to your laptop and mobile devices for free by clicking in the iCalendar link at the bottom of each sport's homepage or the master schedule page. Fans can also follow Quinnipiac Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@QUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates.