by PETE JANNY, Asst. Sports Editor
Following a tough road loss to Monmouth on February 12th, the Manhattan women’s basketball team (7-17, MAAC 5-8) returned to Draddy for a Friday night match-up vs. the first place Quinnipiac Bobcats (18-6, MAAC 13-0).
The Jaspers knew they needed to play a well-rounded game to compete with the mighty Bobcats. Entering the night, Quinnipiac had navigated their MAAC slate with impressive ease having amassed a spotless 12-0 record on the season.
Meanwhile, Manhattan entered the game winners of four of their last six contests after enduring early season pains. On this night, Quinnipiac showed why they currently lead the pack in the MAAC with an emphatic 64-39 beatdown of Manhattan.
After Pamela Miceus opened the scoring with a nifty turnaround jump shot at the 9:16 mark, problems quickly mounted for the Jaspers. Quinnipiac answered with three quick layups to jump out to a 6-2 lead at the 4:55 mark of the first quarter. After Kania Pollock quashed the Bobcats’ run with a crafty three-point play, Quinnipiac unleashed a commanding 18-1 run to take a 24-6 lead into the halftime break.
After holding Manhattan to five points in the first quarter, the Bobcats’ defense almost held Manhattan scoreless in the second quarter conceding only one point. The Jaspers first half was characterized by an 8.3 percent shooting performance from the field, including an 0 for 8 showing from downtown.
“I wasn’t expecting us to shoot this poorly,” said head coach Heather Vulin. “Just one of those days when we weren’t capitalizing on some good shot opportunities.”
Manhattan came out of the break looking much more relaxed. The Jaspers opened the third quarter with back to back mid-range baskets and a Lynette Taitt trifecta that helped cut the deficit to 30-15 at the 7:55 mark.
Quinnipiac had no intentions of letting Manhattan creep closer.
The Bobcats ignited a 17-9 run that culminated with an Edel Thornton triple as time expired in the third quarter to stretch their 18 point halftime lead to 23 at 47-24. Manhattan sophomore Lizahya Morgan impressed in the third quarter chipping in 10 points on 3 for 4 shooting from three.
“We had a terrible first half but I was really impressed by the fight the team showed to make the second half competitive,” said Vulin. “Morgan owned the opportunity and was aggressive.”
The Jaspers were markedly better in the second half as they were marginally outscored in the third and fourth quarters by counts of 23-18 and 17-15, respectively. Ultimately, Manhattan’s underwhelming first stanza proved too costly to overcome. Vulin credited Quinnipiac for executing their game plan to a tee.
“Hats off to Quinnipiac they played a really well-rounded game,” said Vulin. “They made every pass difficult for us tonight.”
Vulin was primarily frustrated by the way her team handled the rock. The Jaspers committed 25 turnovers to Quinnipiac’s 10.
“My biggest disappointment of the night was the way we handled the ball,” said Vulin.
Playing without freshman phenom D’yona Davis was a tough pill to swallow for Manhattan. According to Vulin, Davis is currently nursing a knee injury.
“She is a big loss because not only has she been great offensively but defensively she has really been stepping it up,” Vulin said of Davis. “In my opinion she has been the MAAC player of the year.”
Unfortunately for Manhattan, Davis’ future availability remains unclear at the moment.
“We are hoping to get her back this season so she’s day to day right now,” said Vulin.
Morgan was the lone bright spot on the offensive end as she tallied 13 points. On the rebounding front, Courtney Worley exceeded her MAAC best 9.8 rebounds per game with 12 boards. The Bobcats were paced by Aryn McClure’s 13 point output.
With only five games remaining on their MAAC schedule, Vulin’s main priority is helping her team ascend to new heights on the offensive end.
“Offensive flow is an area we need more consistency,” said Vulin. “We haven’t had games when it’s consistent scoring across the board.”
As for Quinnipiac, Friday night’s win marked their 31st consecutive win in MAAC play dating back to last season.