The "second season" begins this week for three of Quinnipiac University's winter sports squads, while the women's hockey team continues its playoff run, facing one of the top teams in the country.
The men's basketball team is looking to return to the Northeast Conference title game after dropping a tough 52-50 decision last season to Robert Morris in a home contest that could have given the school its first ever NCAA Tournament birth. Coach Tom Moore's squad finished this year's regular season at 21-8 overall and 13-5 in conference play, winning six straight, and nine of its last ten.
The Bobcats, seeded second in the Northeast Conference Tournament, open play Thursday night at 7 p.m. versus seventh-seeded Mount Saint Mary's (11-20, 9-9) at the . Senior forward Justin Rutty overcame a midseason elbow injury to average 14.5 points and 9.1 rebounds-per-game, while junior guard James Johnson led Quinnipiac, averaging 16.3 points from the floor.
The Bobcats split two games against Mount Saint Mary's in the regular season.
The women's basketball team (14-15, 11-7) overcame an 0-5 start to post a 14-10 mark during the last three months of the season. Head coach Tricia Fabbri's squad is seeded seventh for the NEC tournament, and faces No. 2 Monmouth on Saturday afternoon in West Long Branch, N.J.
The Bobcats defeated Monmouth on the road in January, but dropped a 62-56 regular season-ending decision to the Hawks at home this past Monday night, setting up the third meeting between both squads on Saturday.
"It’s a unique situation to see the same opponent twice in one week with so much at stake," Fabbri said. "Both teams will be will prepared and very familiar with one another. For us, we need to execute on both ends of the floor for an entire 40 minutes."
Senior center Courtney Kaminsky leads the Bobcats with at 12.6 points-per-game, while sophomore guard Felicia Barron is averaging 11.8.
The Quinnipiac men's hockey team, seeded eighth for this year's ECAC playoffs, opens a best two-of-three home playoff series Friday night against the Brown Bears. A pair of 2-2 overtime ties last weekend at No. 5 Union and RPI assured Quinnipiac of home ice in the first round.
Quinnipiac finished the regular season at 13-13-8 overall, and 6-9-7 in ECAC play. Both games this season between the Bobcats and Brown ended in overtime ties -- 3-3 in Providence in November and 2-2 in Hamden last month.
Freshman forward Connor Jones led the Bobcats in scoring with 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points. Sophomore forward Jeremy Langlois tallied 15 goals, while sophomore goalie Eric Hartzell went 10-6-6 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
The Quinnipiac women's hockey team began its ECAC postseason run last weekend with a two-game series sweep on the road at No. 4 Princeton. Sophomore forward Brittany Lyons scored the game-winning goal with just five seconds left in regulation last Friday night to give the fifth-seeded Bobcats a 2-1 win in the first game, while sophomore goalie Victoria Vigilanti turned aside 18 shots in goal for a shutout and the series sweep with a 2-0 win in game two.
The Bobcats now face tournament No. 1 Cornell in a single-game semifinal contest Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Lynah Rink in Ithaca, N.Y.
"Our program is very excited about playing Cornell University, the No. 2 team in the nation," said Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley. "Everyone seemed to hit their stride last weekend against Princeton, so our collective confidence is at a season high right now."
Seeley added, "Cornell is loaded from top to bottom, it is very hard to isolate any weaknesses. We know that we have to play close to a perfect game to have a chance to beat them, but this is what we worked so hard for all year."
Freshman sensation Kelly Babstock leads Quinnipiac in scoring with 30 goals and 28 assists for 58 points. Her second period goal on Saturday proved to be the game winner, sending the Bobcats to the second round of the playoffs.