Quinnipiac women’s basketball advances to Sweet 16

Bobcats top No. 5 Marquette and No. 4 Miami to move on in Stockton Region

By on March 23, 2017
Martucci athleticsPhoto Courtesy of Quinnipiac Athletics

“I’d never heard of it,” Marquette’s Natisha Hiedeman said in an interview when her team found out it would be facing the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

“If they don’t know who we are, they’re going to find out,” Quinnipiac junior Carly Fabbri said in a press conference regarding on Hiedeman’s comment prior to the Bobcats winning its first two NCAA tournament games.

And as Monday night concluded, it wasn’t just Marquette that found out who Quinnipiac was, but the nation as well.

The Bobcats started the tournament coming off its MAAC Championship victory, looking to complete the goal that head coach Tricia Fabbri had set prior to the season: win a game in the NCAA tournament.

The No. 12-seeded Bobcats found out last Monday that they had to go down to Coral Gables, Florida to face the No. 5 seed Marquette Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon.

The Bobcats played like they belonged, leading 43-30 going into halftime. However, the Golden Eagles staged a rally near the end of the third quarter, cutting the Bobcats’ lead to 54-45 going into the fourth quarter.

After both teams traded buckets for most of the fourth quarter, the Golden Eagles cut the Bobcats’ lead to 65-63 with 1:56 remaining.

Both teams would turnover the ball on their next possession, giving a chance for the Golden Eagles to tie it. They went on to miss two jump shots, but Quinnipiac sophomore Aryn McClure committed a foul with 28 seconds left.

Hiedeman had a chance to tie the game with 20 seconds left, but fifth-year senior Adily Martucci blocked her jump shot and Quinnipiac came away with possession.

“When it came down to it, I just knew I had to be in her stuff,” Martucci said. “My hands had to be up because we knew she was going to launch it.”

Quinnipiac sophomore Paula Strautmane would get fouled, sending her to the free-throw line, where she made both free throws to put the Bobcats up by four with 17 seconds to go.

Erika Davenport hit a layup on the ensuing possession to get the Golden Eagles within two with six seconds to go. Strautmane was fouled, and would make one of two free throws with three seconds left.

Hiedeman missed a three to tie it at the buzzer, giving Quinnipiac its first ever NCAA tournament win.

“When we won the MAAC Championship close to two weeks ago, I told my young ladies to enjoy the moment, because you never know. We worked very hard to win that title,” Tricia Fabbri said. “But I also said, ‘Don’t be satisfied.’ We weren’t finished yet.”

Redshirt sophomore forward Jen Fay led the Bobcats in points with 20 points in 24 minutes and led all players in steals with four.

Quinnipiac moved into the second round and faced No. 4 Miami on the Hurricanes’ home floor on Monday night.

The Bobcats had another hot offensive start against the Hurricanes, taking a 43-36 lead into halftime and shooting 9-15 (60 percent) from behind the arc.

However, the Bobcats faced some adversity in the opening minutes of the second half when Martucci and Fay each picked up their fourth fouls. Coach Tricia Fabbri had to pull two of her best players out for several minutes in the second half.

The Hurricanes were unable to take full advantage, though, as they would only cut the Bobcats’ lead to 60-55 going into the fourth quarter.

“On both games, teams came back, cut the lead kind of short,” McClure said. “But we stayed focused and we knew our end goal, and we just maintained our lead. And we end up being successful.”

Quinnipiac senior Morgan Manz propelled the Bobcats with the game of her life, hitting two threes in the first couple of minutes of the fourth.

“My teammates and coaches, they all have the utmost confidence in (me), more confidence than I do in my shots,” Manz said. “I just did what my coaches have been asking me to do for the last four years, and that was just shoot it. And I just let it fly because we had nothing to lose.”

Manz led the Bobcats with 20 points after hitting six 3-pointers.

The Bobcats were able to hold off the Hurricanes, leading 71-68 when Fay and Martucci were both back into the lineup with 5:05 left. Neither team would score for nearly two minutes until Keyona Harris made a layup to cut the Bobcats’ lead to one with 3:22 remaining.

McClure hit a jumpshot on the next Bobcat possession to put them back up by three with 2:56 to go.

A few possessions later, Harris hit a layup, but Manz answered right away with a layup of her own to keep the Bobcats’ lead at three with 1:40 left.

Quinnipiac fouled Miami’s Adrienne Motley with 1:05 remaining and made both of her free throws to cut the Bobcat lead to one again

But with 59 seconds left, Martucci made the biggest play in Quinnipiac basketball history when she made a 3-pointer to put the Bobcats up 78-74.

I honestly didn’t know it was going in. I was definitely hoping for the best,” Martucci said. “But once I saw it release my hand, I kind of knew it was. And obviously I got excited afterwards. But yeah, it was just amazing that it went in, and I was obviously very, very pumped about it.”

Following that play, the Hurricanes didn’t have a chance to tie it for the rest of the game as the Bobcats hit six of their final seven free throws, securing an 85-78 victory and a trip to the Sweet 16.

“I’m just so proud of our Bobcats, the way they battled and the way that they again responded in the most difficult of situations on their home court, not to lose the lead and make big plays again,” Tricia Fabbri said.

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