W Basketball 03.13.19

Women’s Basketball’s Season Ends in Semi-Final

The season came to an end for Women’s Basketball on Sunday afternoon, as they fell 80-42 to No. 1 Quinnipiac in the semifinals of the 2019 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament in Albany, NY.

“It was a tough one for us today,” said Head Coach Jody Craig. “We didn’t get off to a great start, and when you play a team like Quinnipiac, that could be a deadly combination. We dug ourselves in too big of a hole, but I was proud of our team for continuing to fight.”

The Bobcats scored the first four points of the game, but Monmouth came within one on a three-point shot from junior guard Sierra Green. That was the closest the Hawks would be for the rest of the day. Quinnipiac embarked on a 13-2 run to take a 17-5 lead with 5:09 remaining in the first quarter. Monmouth was able to bring the deficit down to nine on free throws from junior forward Alexa Middleton, but the Bobcats answered with eight consecutive points to balloon the lead to 25-8. After ten minutes, they led 27-11.

Monmouth made a run in the second quarter, hitting three straight field goals to make the score 34-17, while holding the Bobcats scoreless for over three minutes. Quinnipiac, however, answered again, utilizing a 7-0 run to take a 41-17 score into the halftime break.

The Bobcats continued their run into the second half, scoring the first 11 points to expand the lead to 52-17, while holding the Hawks scoreless until the 3:31 mark of the frame. Quinnipiac closed the third quarter with eight-straight points, giving them a 62-21 lead after 30 minutes.

Monmouth won the fourth quarter, outscoring Quinnipiac 21-18, but couldn’t overcome the deficit, as the Bobcats advanced to their sixth-straight MAAC Championship Game.

“Overall, we demonstrated a fight for 40 minutes, and I think that’s the only change you have to ever make progress in taking that next step, which we really hope to do next season,” said Craig. “It’s a good growth process to go through this today. We have things we’d like to be better at, and it gives us motivation to work on it in the offseason.”

Green led Monmouth with 11 points, which was the 22nd time in 31 games in which she scored in double-figures. Senior center Erica Balman added nine points off of the bench, and freshman forward Lucy Thomas scored seven points while grabbing five rebounds.

For the game, the Hawks shot 26 percent from the field, 23 percent from three, and 77 percent from the foul line. Monmouth turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 26 Quinnipiac points off of those turnovers.

Sunday’s semifinal was the program’s second in four years, as they reached it in the 2015-16 season. Monmouth began their tournament run with a 64-53 win over Canisius on Saturday afternoon. 2019 marked the sixth-straight year in which the program won at least one game at the MAAC Tournament.

Sunday marked the end of the careers of the program’s two seniors, Balman and guard McKinzee Barker. Balman played 109 games over four seasons, finishing fifth all-time with 127 blocks, while scoring 326 points and grabbing 431 rebounds. Barker started 97 games, scored 674 points, corralled 458 rebounds, dished 257 assists, and had 113 steals.

“It’s been a blessing [to play for Monmouth],” Barker said. “It was quite the rollercoaster but also a blessing. I want to thank the Monmouth program for giving me the opportunity to live out my dream. It’s been quite the ride, and I know that the lessons I have learned playing here I will be able to take into my life after Monmouth.”

“What was unique for me and McKinzee’s experience was that we never had consistency in any of the years we’ve been here,” Balman said. “We had to deal with so much adversity, so many different team changes, we had different players every year, so to see the program being changed into something that can be so beautiful and strong next year is really exciting. I’m just blessed that I had the opportunity to play here, because I know it’s going to be something great.”

The Hawks will return the rest of the roster from this season, and will welcome in two transfer guards, Akilah Jennings and Jen Louro. Monmouth finished the season with a record of 14-17, winning nine games in conference play.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics