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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, January 28, 2011

Quinnipiac women brace for big weekend

By Bill Cloutier

HAMDEN – It’s hard to tell a team with a record of 0-5 that things are proceeding right on schedule. Jacinda Dunbar and the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team, however, seemed to believe it.
After the Bobcats began the season without a win in its first five outings coach Tricia Fabbri told them not to worry and when their Northeast Conference slate began they’d be all the better for it.
So far, so good.
Quinnipiac (10-9) plays host to Robert Morris today at the TD Bank Sports Center at noon. The two teams are part of a three-way tie for first place in the conference at 7-1. The Bobcats men’s team battle St. Francis (Pa.) immediately after the women’s game. Both men’s teams are 5-4 in the NEC.
“This is going to be a real defensive challenge for us,” Dunbar said. “Robert Morris is a tough team. They have more than one girl who can really take it to the basket.”
The Lady Bobcats have won four straight and seven of their last eight. Their tough opening stretch featured games against nationally-ranked Vanderbilt and USC.
Depth, according to Dunbar, has been the biggest reason for Quinnipiac’s revival.
“I’m kind of surprised,” Dunbar said. “I knew that we would be a good team in conference time. It’s good that we have a lot of players to sub in. We weren’t deep at all last year. No one has to play 40 minutes anymore.”
Dunbar is a fierce competitor. Undersized at power forward she typically battles against bigger frontcourts throughout the season. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and plays with reckless abandon.
Earlier in the season after fouling out of a game against Lafayette on a questionable call Dunbar fumed about the infraction for the entire night. The next day she torched New Hampshire for a career-high 26 points on 10 of 15 shooting.
A couple of weeks ago in a thrilling win over Central Connecticut State, Dunbar was so upset about her fifth foul that she walked off the court and right out of the arena to compose herself. She returned later to watch guard Felicia Barron win the game with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Dunbar is third on the team in scoring at 9.6 ppg and third in rebounding at 4.9. She averaged 9.8 points last year while playing nearly seven minutes more a contest as the Bobcats were decimated by injuries and finished 12-18 overall and 7-11 in the NEC.
The Bobcats have gotten tremendous contributions from freshman Brittany McQuain and transfer Kari Goodchild. But it’s been the remarkable comebacks by Courtney Kaminski and Barron that have truly paved the way. Barron has returned from two torn anterior cruciate ligaments to lead the team in assists, steals, 3-pointers and is second in scoring at 12.8. Kaminski missed four games and parts of three others with a variety of injuries yet still leads the team in scoring.
Both are among the best players in the conference.
“We’re all just hungry,” Dunbar said. “After last year when we had so many injuries we’ve all matured as a team.”
Quinnipiac hosts St. Francis (Pa.) on Monday night. The Red Flash are also 7-1.
“This is the biggest weekend series since I’ve been here,” Dunbar said. “We can succeed. It’s going to be a big challenge for us to all pull together.”

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