Hamden, CT -- The Quinnipiac Bobcats got back to their winning ways from a season ago on Thursday afternoon, winning their first game of the season against Hartford in overtime, 71-69. Quinnipiac continued their dominance at home, now having won their last 15 games at the TD Bank Sports Center dating back to last season.
Morgan Manz led the way for the Bobcats with 15 points. Aryn McClure also chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds, recording the first double-double of her career. Lee Darby led all scorers in the game with 17 points, and added 8 rebounds for the Hawks.
All ten players that entered the game for Quinnipiac saw over 15 minutes of action, as the team continued their patented "Gold Rush" substituting strategy.
Quinnipiac Head Coach Tricia Fabbri says with everyone contributing; it really does not matter who starts for her team. The Bobcats went with their fourth different starting lineup this season against the Hawks, which includes different starters their two regular season games as well as their two scrimmages.
"We've mixed our units so much, I'm not sure who's on the first (unit) and who's on the second (unit) to be honest with you," Fabbri said. "Basically starting is so inconsequential to us, I can just tell you that we need everybody to come in and fulfill a role for us."
Quinnipiac led for most of the game, and held a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter. This was the Bobcats second game in a row being outscored in the final quarter by double-digits. The Bobcats were outscored by 12 in the fourth today, and were outscored by ten in their first game of the season which they lost to Army.
The Bobcats led by as many as 14 in the final quarter, before the Hawks went on a 20-6 run. Hartford never led in the final quarter, but had their game-winning jumper with one-second left rattle in and out. The game would head into overtime tied at 60.
The Hawks scored quickly in overtime to take a two-point lead, before finding themselves down by seven points with a little over three minutes left. The Hawks would go on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 69, and had a couple chances to take the lead in the final minute of the overtime period, but could never shake Quinnipiac.
McClure scored a layup out of an inbounds pass under her own basket, in what would be the game-winning bucket. Coach Fabbri says she liked the way her young team responded after failing to close the game out in regulation, and knows how much this win means to her young team.
"I just love our grit, determination and fight," Fabbri said. "The basketball has got to continue to come, and that's where we are trying to scratch out wins while learning a lot together and about each other. I think psychologically, the confidence you get from a win is really important, so that's why this was really huge today."
At times, the game was sloppy, as both teams committed numerous unforced turnovers. Hartford turned the ball over 21 times, while Quinnipiac committed 19. A lot of that had to do with both teams ability to pressure the basketball.
"I think they picked up the pressure a lot in the 4th quarter," Manz said. "They weren't really pressing us in the first couple quarters, so we have to learn to deal with the pressure. A lot of it is we are young, so we aren't used to the college-level pressure. We'll learn, and hopefully we'll keep those (turnovers) down."
Preseason Sixth Player of the Year Maria Napolitano did not play today, after only playing four minutes in the Bobcats first game of the season against Army. Coach Fabri said an ankle injury kept her out of the game, which impacted her team on the court today.
"One of (the problems) I think for us is confidence," Fabbri said. "For us as a coaching staff, (Napolitano) is someone we really feel confident without on the floor. All of a sudden, not only were we young, boy, we turned into relative babies. So I also think it was a great opportunity for us this young in the season to see what we can do when we face adversity, and how we're going to handle it."