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Quinnipiac advances to MAAC women's basketball championship to face Marist

Quinnipiac will face defending champion Marist in the MAAC women's basketball championship today at 4:30 p.m. PST. To get there, they had to deal with Siena in the semifinals.

Albany, NY - A 64-47 semifinal victory put them in the finals. Quinnipiac, a victor over Siena is now unblemished and in the championship contest. A dominant team in search of ending Marist's strangle hold on the MAAC title, the Bobcats come at you with a multitude of weapons.

First of all, beyond the X's and O's and numbers, it all begins with good people. There is a strong chemistry, a solid group of individuals.

"That is where it all starts," Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said. "You have to have good people in your program. That is the foundation."

The numbers show Quinnipiac with a 107 efficiency on offense against 78 on defense. An outstanding +29 efficiency margin (offense minus defense). Defensively, a 23.8% turnover rate (second in the MAAC to Siena's 24%) displays how they disrupt people. They average a conference-best 76 possessions. When you play them be prepared to run.

As a team Quinnipiac has just three players in double digit scoring. The leader is Val Driscoll, a 6-4 graduate student center. They employ the three pointer with great proficiency. 39 percent of their attempts are from long range. They shoot 35% from beyond the arc and have buried 278 treys. Samantha Gusatella, a 6-1 senior forward, leads with 90 treys. Against Monmouth she hit just 3 for 9 points, attesting to the depth of this group.

On offense, the Bobcats, as noted, are a team that can hit from the perimeter with the accompanying size to be effective inside.

"They are such a matchup program," Monmouth coach Jenny Palmateer said after Quinnipiac defeated the Hawks 82-61 in the quarterfinal. "If you zone them you are giving up the perimeter shot to effective three point shooters. If you go man to man you have to deal with their size and physicality."

Another factor is their depth.

"They make five man substitutions (as Dean Smith did in the early 70s at Carolina)," Palmateer said. "Those substitutes are good and they are fresh which puts more pressure on your team."

Monmouth full court pressured the Bobcats. They broke the pressure and rather than set up, attacked by taking three pointers.

"That is how we play," said Quinnipiac guard Gillian Abshire, a 16 point scorer in the Monmouth contest. "That is how we attack pressure and we have the green light (to shoot the three)."

Abshire went on to say, "A lot of shooting is mental, if I am in a slump I am encouraged to keep shooting. That's the way to break that slump."

The work ethic, especially on the part of the coaching staff, is outstanding. Quinnipiac defeated Monmouth in the noon game on Friday. There were three other games to follow. Following the presser, Fabbri and her staff were out scouting. Not just Siena-Iona in the second game (the winner being their next opponent). They stayed for the evening double header, scouting, taking notes on scouting folders and a lap top. They stayed through all four games watching every opponents. A dominant undefeated club leaving nothing to chance.

"We are focused on leadership and the task at hand," Fabbri said speaking of the entire group, players and coaches. ‘We want to finish the (MAAC) on a high note. This is what we came for."

The final will see Quinnipiac face Marist, a 67-50 winner over Fairfield in the other semi. Quinnipiac won both meeting by 18 points this season. Marist though, is not conceding its stranglehold on the MAAC title.

As one coach said, "The road to the MAAC title runs through Marist."

Quinnipiac is well aware and excited about the challenge.