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Molloy comes off 22-win campaign

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Molloy College women’s basketball enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history in 2019-2020, going 22-9 overall and reaching the East Coast Conference title game.

“Twenty-two is just a number,” coach Joe Pellicane said. “It’s how you get your wins. What makes that 22 so special is the quality opponents we beat along the way. We beat Stonehill, the Northeast-10 champions,, early in the season, and that set the tone.”

Molloy ranked No. 12 in the country in strength of schedule and in the top 5 in points allowed and defensive field goal percentage. “We’ve always taken great pride in defense,” Pellicane said. “Those accomplishments are something to hang our hat on.”

Turning the page on a new season with what appears to be many obstacles on and off the court, the Lions return one full-time starter, senior guard/forward Gabrielle Aspuru, and will look to resume practice sometime in December to prepare for the Jan. 9 opener at Robert Wesleyan.

“We started individual workouts in October and hope to be back on the court soon,” Pellicane said. “Nothing is guaranteed this season. I’m hoping for the best. I’m blessed to be teaching and coaching an exceptional group of young ladies.”

Barring any changes, the 18-game ECC schedule and postseason tournament will be played without fans. The Lions won’t participate in any non-conference games. In addition to Robert Wesleyan, they’ll also face defending champ Daemen, D’Youville, District of Columbia, Staten Island, Queens, Bridgeport, Mercy and St. Thomas Aquinas twice each.

Pellicane described Aspuru as one of the best players in the conference. She was an All-ECC selection last season after starting all 31 games and averaging 12.6 points and 5.9 rebounds, ranking second on the team in both categories. She also blocked 35 shots. “Gabrielle is multidimensional on both ends and can defend anyone,” Pellicane said. “She’s a big-time winner and a captain on and off the court. She has a great motor and attitude and we’re fortunate to have her on our side.”

Point guard Giolibeth Perez was limited to 18 games (all starts) last season due to injury and will miss all of 2020-21. Her 7.2 points per game and ability to get teammates involved (74 assists.). Perez’s absence leaves Aspuru as the only top seven scorer back in the fold.

Junior Katie Marquardt, who averaged 16 minutes per game last season in a reserve role, is expected to assume a larger role and could handle the point. Pellicane said she brings a tremendous basketball IQ and leadership ability. “We trust Katie with the ball,” he said.

Senior Mackenzie Burke and redshirt sophomore Maryanne Bagonis, a Mepham High School graduate, bring experience to the backcourt. One of the program’s newcomers is sophomore guard Trinity Hudson, a former standout at Glen Cove High School. “Trinity is very athletic and I’m looking forward to being able to work with her,” Pellicane said.

At forward, senior Morgan Staab, a Lynbrook resident and Kellenberg High School grad, appeared in 18 games last season and will have an opportunity for a more defined role, Pellicane noted. “She shoots, rebounds and defends well,” he said.

Graduate student Mikaiya Moore could make an impact in the frontcourt along with freshman 6-foot-2 center Danielle Hippner, who starred at East Meadow High School.

“We haven’t been able to define much without much practice,” Pellicane said. “We’re taking it one day at a time.”