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Quinn, Long provide an ECC connection in Vermont

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published January 27. 2012 4:00AM
Shane Bufano/ St. Michael's College
Montville High School graduate Caitlin Quinn is the senior leader at St. Michael's College in Vermont and has been joined by two other ECC players, Alexa Long of Waterford and Kelly Dixon of Bacon Academy.

Worcester, Mass. — A booming voice could be heard as senior Caitlin Quinn lined up her second free throw in the closing seconds of a St. Michael's College upset victory.

"C'mon, Mike."

The words - an inside family joke - came from her father, Jere.

"Did you hear him?" Caitlin said. "I used to tease my brother Mike for missing foul shots. I missed the first and he's like, 'C'mon, Mike.'

"So then I started laughing and, of course, I missed the second."

Her two misses with three seconds left didn't matter.

Her clutch 3-pointer with two and a half minutes left did matter, helping St. Michael's beat No. 21 Assumption College, 62-56, at Laska Gymnasium on Wednesday.

The victory was especially sweet for Quinn and fellow starter Alexa Long, two former Eastern Connecticut Conference standouts playing before family members that traveled up I-395 North for the Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball game. Bacon Academy graduate Kelly Dixon is a freshman reserve.

Quinn, an all-state guard out of Montville High School, and Long both made key contributions. A captain, Quinn provided valuable leadership and scored six points. Long, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward from Waterford, was a strong inside presence, finishing with four points and a team-high six rebounds.

They combined for a big basket. With SMC (8-10) clinging to a two-point lead, Quinn fed Long who made a strong move for a layup with 6:44 remaining.

The fact that Long was on the court for the game's crucial minutes represented a positive step in her development from last year.

"It feels good," Long said. "Last year was a learning experience for me. I didn't really play much, and that was fine. I was playing behind girls who were very good. It's nice to have coach's confidence.

"With the amount of experienced players we have, they don't need me to score 20 points a game. My goal is to rebound and play defense. But I can make strong moves."

Long, who averages 6.6 points and 6.7 rebounds, showed off her offensive potential earlier this season, scoring a career-best 20 points in a loss at Bentley, the No. 1 ranked team in Division II.

"She's got a great offensive game," St. Michael's coach Jennifer Niebling said. "That's where the confidence issue comes in, because she always plays defense, always rebounds and always sets screens. When she's feeling it, she can get 20."

Quinn, a three-point specialist, became a fixture in the lineup as a freshman. She's averaging 7.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and a team-high 33.2 minutes per game this season.

She's earned the respect of her teammates and coaching staff.

"From day one, she's just somebody that we can trust all the time," Niebling said. "She communicates very well. I just tell her and she makes sure everybody else knows."

Apparently Quinn inherited the chatter gene from her father because she's always talking on the court, shouting out directions and encouraging her teammates.

"That's in our blood," Quinn said. "We grew up with my dad and that was expected. Watching him yell during games, I pretty much knew what I had to say out there. I think it is important to be a leader on the floor, too."

Quinn is a leader off the court, too. She started the ECC pipeline, heading to Colchester, Vt., school, and helped sell Long on coming north. And Long hosted Dixon during her recruiting trip.

"When I went up to the school, I just fell in love with it right away," said Long who's majoring in elementary education and sociology. "It helped having (Caitlin) there."

Quinn, a psychology major, is the youngest of four children in her family to play college basketball. She's considering continuing the Quinn tradition after graduation by entering the coaching ranks.

She's thoroughly enjoyed her St. Michael's College experience.

"I couldn't be happier," Quinn said. "It's a great school and a great location. Basketball-wise, we have a great team. It's so easy to make friends with these girls. … It's a great place.

"I love it."

g.keefe@theday.com

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