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Players, coach ready for first trip to the Big Dance
Will face Maryland in the first round
The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team will play the University of Maryland in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in College Park, Md.
On Monday night, the women’s basketball team, coaches and school administrators gath- ered in the University Club at the TD Bank Sports Center to watch the seeding of the 64- team field revealed live on ESPN.
The selection committee awarded the Northeast Conference Champion Quinnipiac Bobcats (30-2), who earned an automatic bid into the tournament by winning the NEC title, the No. 13 seed in the Bridgeport region.
They will travel to the University of Mary- land to take on the nationally ranked (No. 10/12) and fourth-seeded Terrapins (24-7) this weekend, where they believe they can be a bracket buster, despite being a little known team to much of the nation.
“We’re ready to shock the world,” captain Jasmine Martin said after learning her team will play Maryland. “We’ve already done something that’s never been done in school history, now we’re trying to make NEC histo- ry. We’ll do whatever it takes, and we’ll keep fighting until we lose.”
The team finished the season with an 18-0 record within the NEC, and concluded the
regular season schedule with an overall mark of 30-2, on its way to winning the basketball program’s first conference title in 18 years in the NEC.
Its only two losses were at the hands of Hartford and Georgia Tech, both of which came in December. Since the loss to Georgia Tech, the Bobcats have rattled off 22 straight victories and enter the NCAA Tournament with momentum and confidence.
“They’re just another team with jerseys on, just like us,” senior Felicia Barron said. “We’re not going to look at their name as be- ing any different than ours.”
“They’re (the media) is going to ask ‘Who’s Quinnipiac?’” Barron added. “We’re going to go down there and show them who we are.”
There was a sense of pride, accomplish- ment and excitement at the viewing party. The NEC Championship trophy was on full dis- play, draped over it was the net that the team had cut down days before upon capturing the NEC title.
The team, which sat together in three rows of seats watching the seeds being announced, erupted upon hearing its name mentioned on ESPN in the same conversation as basketball powerhouses including Baylor and UConn.
The significance of the moment became palpable when seeing members of the school administration sitting behind the players to watch the historic moment.
In attendance was Bill Schweizer and Billy Mecca, Quinnipiac’s basketball broadcasting tandem, Mark Thompson, senior vice president for academic and student affairs, Dominic Yoia, associate vice president & university director of financial aid, John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, and Al Carbone, associate dean of admissions.
Administrators in the athletic department spoke about the significance of a NCAA Tour- nament appearance for continued growth of the athletic department as well as the positive effect such an accomplishment has for the university.
“It’s just another great step for Quinnipi- ac,” Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald said. “We continue to have bench- mark moments even after 18 years of Division I athletics. I think it validates to the general public what a great place this is. I know it, but the people around the country who are going to watch the show tonight will see Quinnipiac in the bracket and say, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty good school.’”
Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri em-braced the moment but was ready to continue with the season.
“We’ve had such a good year,” Fabbri said. “Getting 30 wins is a number that may never be seen again while I’m here because it’s a ton of wins. So, we’re a confident team and I think we play really good defense and that translates into really good offense, and we’re feeling good about everything we’re doing.”
The Terrapins have won 10 Atlantic Coast Conference championships and, in 2006, won the national championship. This season, they finished in third place behind Duke and the University of North Carolina. They also lost to the Tar Heels in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, 72-65, on March 9.
Their head coach, Brenda Frese, won her third ACC Coach of the Year award this season. They present two big threats down low in Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins who average more than 18 points per game each while also combining for 20 rebounds a game. They have led the Terrapins to the eighth best scoring offense in the country, averaging 75.9 points per game. Quinnipiac comes in at 25th in the same category with 71.1 points per game. Maryland also succeeds at what has been Quinnipiac’s forte lately, in rebounding averaging 44.2 rebounds per game and pos- sess the second best rebounding margin in the country at 14.2. The Bobcats average 40.2 rebounds per game on the season but hold a rebounding margin of -2.7
If the Bobcats get past Maryland, they will play the winner of No. 5 Michigan State and No. 12 Marist at College Park, on Monday.