SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Marist trailed Quinnipiac by 17 in the first half of the Metro Atlantic championship when the Red Foxes really buckled down.
With another NCAA tournament appearance on the line, Sydney Coffey and company found another gear.
Coffey scored 23 points, Casey Dulin added 14 points and seven assists, and Marist rallied past Quinnipiac for a 70-66 victory and its ninth straight MAAC title.
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”The thing is that they persevered,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. ”We broke the game down into where we wanted to be. We didn’t panic. We took it at them and made big shots down the stretch, made great decisions down the stretch.”
Brittany McQuain had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Samantha Guastella added 16 points for Quinnipiac (21-12), which is in its inaugural season in the MAAC.
The Bobcats were looking for their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. They won the NEC last year, going undefeated in conference play.
Quinnipiac used a 25-2 run to open a 35-18 lead in the first half. The Red Foxes went more than 13 minutes without a field goal, and missed 13 consecutive shots.
But they scored the final six points of the half, breaking the field-goal drought on a layup by Dulin with 28 seconds left. That sent them into the locker room down 35-24.
”We knew it wasn’t over,” Dunlin said. ”At halftime in our little group huddle, we said it’s 0-0, we just have got to play from here.”
Dulin opened the second half with a three-point play and Marist stretched its run to 14-2. The Red Foxes kept chipping away and finally took a 59-58 lead on a layup by Tori Jarosz. They never led by more than six.
Gillian Abshire missed a long 3-pointer with 5 seconds left that would have tied the game for Quinnipiac. Leanne Ockenden sealed Marist’s win by making a free throw on the other end.
”They are just such a tremendous program and they’ve won and they’ve won a lot,” Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said. ”At no point during that game did I think, `This is done.”’
The Red Foxes shot 62 percent in the second half after hitting just 28 percent of their shots before the break.
Marist, which now has a record 10 MAAC titles, was playing in its 11th consecutive championship game. The Red Foxes haven’t lost a MAAC tournament game since March 6, 2005, when they fell in the title game to Canisius.
This team, Dulin said, wasn’t going to be the class to break that streak.
”We’ve experienced it the last three years too,” she said. ”We all have the desire to win, the determination too. We all looked at each other and we knew that we were going out there and fight.”
Marist won both regular-season games against Quinnipiac, a six-point road victory in December and a 19-point win at home last month. It will enter the NCAA tournament on a nine-game winning streak.