ALBANY, N.Y. -- Aryn McClure picked the perfect night for a career-game.
McClure scored a career-best 28 points to help Quinnipiac beat Rider 81-73 and win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship on Monday night, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"There was no way we weren't going to win tonight," Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said. "Twenty-eight points, a career high there, this was not going to not happen."
Jen Fay added 16 points and career-best tying 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who will make their second trip to the NCAAs in the past three seasons.
"We certainly will enjoy it," Fabbri said. "This is so difficult to do. To achieve success after you set out to accomplish a goal and then do it. Then accomplish the second goal of a MAAC Tournament championship and then do it. You better enjoy it. I said to the young ladies, let's not be satisfied, we're onto the next goal."
That's to win the first NCAA Tournament game in school history.
Trailing 27-23 midway through the second quarter, Quinnipiac (27-6) scored 17 of the next 21 points over the next 7 minutes to take a 40-31 advantage on Fay's 3-pointer from the wing.
"Went into locker room up one and second half we never looked back and now we're crowned MAAC champions and get into the NCAA Tournament and I'm really pleased," Fabbri said.
The Broncs (24-8) were trying to complete one of the greatest turnarounds in MAAC history. They finished last in the conference last season and were picked 10th out of 11 in the preseason poll.
"It means a lot being an alum, being allowed to have opportunity to lead this program to new heights it's never been," Rider coach Lynn Milligan said. "The pride this program has right now from our alum and our lady Broncs family makes me incredibly proud. I'm thankful these young ladies give me everything they do every day to make this happen."
What made the Broncs' run even more impressive is that they played the last month of the season without conference player of the year Robin Perkins, who has an injured foot.
"She wasn't ready. Robin is not the type of player that wants to go out there and not be her best," Milligan said.
Down 65-50 with 4:36 left, Rider tried to rally. The Broncs cut it to 72-68 with 1:07 left on Julia Duggan's three-point play, but could get no closer.
"We did it in a couple games in the regular season," Duggan said of rallying late. "When you're down you can't give up. I tried to put the team on my back."
Duggan finished with 23 points and Kamila Hoskova added 16 to lead the Broncs.
Rider jumped out to a quick 17-7 lead as freshman Stella Johnson scored 10 of the team's points. Quinnipiac was struggling from the field except for McClure, who had 11 of the team's first 13 points. She finally started getting some help on the offensive end and the Bobcats rallied to take a 30-29 lead at the half. McClure finished the opening 20 minutes with 16 points.
"It was just adrenaline, we were down and there was no way we were losing in the championship," McClure said.
For the first time in the tournament, Quinnipiac had a halftime lead.