Women’s Basketball Looks To Clinch NEC Title On Saturday At Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart University Pioneers (18-7 10-3 NEC)
Quinnipiac University Bobcats (23-2, 14-0 NEC)

Date: Sunday, February 23, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: William H. Pitt Center - Fairfield, Conn.
Series vs. Sacred Heart: 26-34
Sacred Heart Last Five: 5-0
Quinnipiac Last Five: 5-0
Live Online Video: NEC Front Row
Audio: AM 1220 WQUN
Live Stats: QuinnipiacBobcats.com   

Complete Game Notes as a PDF

Searching for the  Sweep
Just one game away from clinching home court advantage throughout the 2013 Northeast Conference Tournament, the Quinnipiac University women's basketball team (23-2, 14-0 NEC) will continue its 2012-13 season on Saturday evening when they travel across town to Sacred Heart to take on the Pioneers.  This will be the team's last Northeast Conference regular season match-up between Constitution State rivals. Both teams are set to tip-off at 1:00 p.m. at the William H. Pitt Center in Fairfield, Conn. The Bobcats need just one more win to claim the NEC Regular Season Title.  The Pioneers enter Sunday's game with an overall mark of 18-7 and a 10-3 record in the Northeast Conference.

On The Air
Saturday's game will be streamed live online through NEC Front Row by clicking the appropriate links posted on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. In addition, fans can tune into www.WQUNSports.com where the Bob Mortali will have the play-by-play call along with Bob Tipson providing insight on color commentary. Live stats will also be available on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. 

Scouting Sacred Heart
Currently riding a nine game winning streak dating back to January, the Pioneers enter Saturday's game with an overall record of 18-7 and 10-3 in NEC competition. Sophomore Gabrielle Washington leads the Pioneers in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per outing to go along with 4.5 rebounds per game.  Also in double digits for Sacred Heart are seniors Morgan Merriman and Kiley Evans, each bringing in 12.4 and 11.3 points per game, respectively. The Pioneers' front court is led by junior Enjoli Bland with 6.2 rebounds per game. Over the weekend, the Pioneers came away with the sweep against Robert Morris, 59-52, and Saint Francis U, 81-56. Most recently, Ericka Norman posted her first double-double of the season with 11 points, 10 assists and five steals. Along with Norman, three Pioneers were featured in double-digits;  Kiley Evans led the backcourt with 23 points, while Gabriell Washington added 22. Off the bench, Blair Koniszewski added 15 points and three steals, while Enjoli Bland tied her career high pulling down 12 boards for Sacred Heart.

All-Time Against The Pioneers
Saturday afternoon will mark the 60th meeting between Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart with the Pioneers leading the all-time series, 34-26. This game will mark the second meeting between these two programs this year.  The Bobcats hosted Sacred Heart on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at the TD Bank Sports Center.  Power forward Brittany McQuain lead the Bobcats with a 74-45 win over defending NEC Champion Sacred Heart. McQuain finished with 21 points, going 9-of-16 from the floor, and completed her third double-double of the season with 10 rebounds. McQuain was joined in double-figures by Jasmine Martin and Felicia Barron as the duo once again carried the Bobcats backcourt. Martin finished with 14 points, while Barron added 13 points.  The Bobcats are only 1-10 on the road with the Pioneers.

Last Time Out
Quinnipiac improved to 14-0 in NEC conference play after defeating Monmouth on Wednesday, 72-45, at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.  Quinnipiac, who now owns the nation's fifth longest winning streak, was led by freshman Maria Napolitano who poured in a career high 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from long range. Jasmine Martin joined Napolitano in double-figures with 11, which featured yet another strong second half with 10 points. Samantha Guastella chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds in her first game back after an 11-game absence, and Felicia Barron added eight points, two blocks and matched a season-high with eight steals. Quinnipiac forced 27 Hawk turnovers and garnered a 33-2 edge in points off turnovers. Monmouth connected on just 32.7 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from long range. Quinnipiac countered with 35.2 percent and a blistering 52.2 percent (12-23) from behind the arc.

New England's Finest
The Bobcats (23-2) and the UConn Huskies (24-2) serve as the only two women's basketball teams in New England with two losses on the season. In addition, Quinnipiac is currently riding a 15-game win streak, which is tied with FGCU for fifth-best in the nation.

Home Court Advantage
With the win over Robert Morris on February 18, the Bobcats clinched home court advantage for the first game of the NEC Tournament. Quinnipiac will need only one more win to clinch the NEC title, which will clinch home court advantage throughout the tournament. The Championships take place March 9-17.

RPI Rankings
The Bobcats are ranked 52nd in the latest RPI poll, released on Thursday, February 20, 2013. The weekly rankings are a based on wins and losses compared to their strength of schedule.

Mid-Major Top 25
The Quinnipiac women's basketball team was ranked ninth in the latest College Insider Top-25 Mid-Major Poll, announced on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. This marks the highest ranking in Quinnipiac history since the Bobcats became eligible for the poll back in 1998 when they joined NCAA Division I. 

Among The Nation's Best
Quinnipiac is currently ranked second in the country with a turnover margin of plus- 8.48 a game, just behind Kentucky. The Bobcats have 366 turnovers compared to 578 from their opponents. The Bobcats also rank 12th in the nation in steals per game at 12.2 per game and 12th in assists per game at 17.0.  The team also cracked top-10, ranking seventh in win and loss percentage (92.0).

Stealing the Show
Senior Felicia Barron currently ranks fifth in the nation in steals per game (3.6), compiling 90 of them this season. She collected a season-high two times of eight steals in the game against Hartford (12/16) and again against Monmouth (2/20).  Last year the Springfield, Mass. native ended the season leading the country with 133 steals.  

Dishing Out
Sophomore point guard Gillian Abshire currently ranks sixth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.63).  For the season, 'Boo' has 126 assists to only 48 turnovers. In the game against Bryant (1/14), Abshire collected a career high of 10 assists and only one turnover in her best performance of her sophomore campaign.  Boo this year went seven straight games with at least five assists and has had 25 assists to only five turnovers in the last three games against Bryant, Robert Morris, and Saint Francis Pa.

20-20 Vision
With their win against CCSU (2/13), the Bobcats claimed 20 wins in a season for the seventh time in program history. It's the second consecutive 20-win season, fourth time under the direction of head coach Tricia Fabbri and fourth time in the Division I era. 

Double Digits Defeats
Along with the Bobcats best start in program history, the team has defeated their opponent by double figures 16 times this season– accounting for a plus-12.6 scoring margin, which is good enough for 34th in the nation.  Of those 16 games, Quinnipiac has defeated seven opponents by a winning margin of at least 20 points. Double-digit winning margins include Rhode Island (16 points), Yale (27 points), Rider (15 points), Holy Cross (12 points), Northeastern (11 points), St. Francis Brooklyn (21 points), Sacred Heart (29 points), Bryant (23 points), Saint Francis University. (16 points), Fairleigh Dickinson (27 points), Wagner (18 points), Mount St. Mary's (23 points), Central Conn. (10 points), Saint Francis University (11 points), Robert Morris (14 points), and Monmouth (27 points).

Career Day
Freshman guard Maria Napolitano notched a career high of 14 on Wednesday, Feb. 20, against Monmouth.  Of her 14 points, 12 came from behind the arc where she went 4–of–5 and shot 71 percent from the field.  The freshman has complied 72 points on the year, where 54 of them have come from behind the three point mark.  

Contact: Bethany Buckholz; Bethany.Buckholz@quinnipiac.edu