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Women’s Basketball: Mackenzie DeWees relishes her chance to play at home for Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac's Mackenzie Dewees, center, looks to pass between Maryland's Shakira Austin, left, and Blair Watson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Quinnipiac's Mackenzie Dewees, center, looks to pass between Maryland's Shakira Austin, left, and Blair Watson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton) (Gail Burton/AP)

COLLEGE PARK — Quinnipiac’s Mackenzie DeWees is usually stoic on the court, but after finishing a jump shot through contact, she couldn’t help but smile.

It had been a long day for DeWees’s and her teammates, but you wouldn’t know it from the cheers that erupted from the Bobcats’ bench and its supporters. Sunday against No. 9-ranked Maryland, DeWees played the first game in her home state since she arrived at Quinnipiac.

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“In high school, when you saw me smile you knew it was going to be OK and it was fun,” DeWees said. “It was fun to play out there and just knowing that my friends and family are behind me.”

Approximately 300 people fans made the trip from Carroll County to College Park to watch one of the best players in county history. About 30 minutes after the game ended, DeWees walked behind the Quinnipiac bench, now packed with supporters. Two fans had signs, one with the phrase “Mack Attack,” and the other with her No. 22 jersey. Several were wearing shirts with the number, including two young kids who were shooting around on the Xfinity Center floor.

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“Besides my parents and a scatter of relatives, I don’t get to play in front of my friends often,” DeWees said. “So this is definitely the opportunity of a lifetime. It brings tear to my eyes to see everybody.”

DeWees had a standout career at Manchester Valley High School, and earned four Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year awards. In February 2018, DeWees became the first Carroll County player, and just the ninth from the Baltimore area, to score 2,000 career points. She averaged 25.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 7.9 steals per game as a senior, and finished her career with 2,157 points, 1,097 rebounds, 690 steals, and 385 assists in 91 games.

At Quinnipiac, she’s had a different role. The Bobcats (1-3) are one of the top mid-major programs in the country, winning five straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season titles and four conference tournament titles. In 2017, the Bobcats became just the fourth No. 12 seed in NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament history to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

With five senior starters last year, DeWees averaged 2.5 points in 10.3 minutes per game. This year with a much younger team, DeWees’ roll has changed. Last year she played as a three guard but has transitioned back to point guard this year while still coming off the bench. Along with freshman Shaq Edwards, DeWees runs the offense.

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“Her ability is very different from Shaq and gives us a lot of looks at the point spot,” Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said. “I think that makes us very difficult to defend when you have different styles at point. Both are scoring guards and becoming more comfortable running the team, which I think is really important.”

Both point guards had a tough time on Sunday, though their teammates did too. The Bobcats struggled with Maryland’s athleticism and length, turning the ball over 26 times in a 107-52 loss. But DeWees had her most productive game of the season, finishing with a season-high seven points and a career-high five assists in 21 minutes.

She’s averaging 4 points and 3.3 assists per game this season.

It’s the type of game Fabbri was looking for, especially for a team that needs young players to step up and fill new roles.

“It’s been really good to watch her really take an opportunity with graduation and really start to grow and be more confident in running the team along with Shaq Edwards,” Fabbri said. “Her growth in that is going to be vital to our success.”

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