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For Quinnipiac, Friday night’s matchup with rival Iona is much bigger than basketball

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Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Bryan Schwartz

Tricia Fabbri admitted Friday’s game against defending conference champion Iona would be a battle. But the fight against breast cancer is a battle even bigger than basketball.

The Bobcats are hosting their “Pink Out at the Bank” event for the second straight year. They are participating in the NCAA-wide Play 4 Kay initiative helping promote breast cancer awareness and raising money for the Kay Yow Cancer fund.

Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri will be donating $1 for every ticket sold prior to Friday’s contest. It was her experience playing in the Play 4 Kay tournament in Las Vegas earlier this season and meeting Stephanie Glance, Kay Yow Cancer Fund’s Executive Director, that fueled her motivation to make this day such a big deal.

“I really wanted to make a better impact and this was really the way to do it. Speaking with my husband, we wanted to make the commitment going forward and we have this opportunity,” said Fabbri.

Fabbri’s daughter, Carly, a junior guard and captain, echoed that same enthusiasm to make an impact on many through this game.

“It’s awesome,” Carly said. “I know that unfortunately we’re all affected by someone who has currently or has had breast cancer, so I think any opportunity to spread awareness and get some money out of it for a cure is fun to do and especially against Iona.”

Breast cancer seems to affect everyone in some way, but Fabbri and Morgan Manz have been strong ties to people who have been riddled with the disease.

“My grandmothers both, in their later stages of life, were touched by breast cancer. They were able to go in and just have the surgery and remove it and live really long and healthy lives,” said Fabbri.

“She is fully recovered, so I thank God for that,” Manz said of her grandmother. “She comes to every one of my games, so I love seeing her out there.”

“I think coming to the game this Friday will be special for her.”

Manz’s grandmother, Barbara Hayward, and every other breast cancer survivor will be invited to participate in a ceremony prior to the game. Survivors will join together for a ceremonial jump ball and be with their Bobcats during the national anthem and starting lineups. Those are just a few events planned for Friday.

“We’re playing a game. It is hard. The hours get long, but it comes down to the fact that it is a game, and we are out here having fun whereas people who are battling any type of cancer, it’s grueling and it unfortunately takes peoples’ lives,” said Fabbri, who easily put the game and the season into perspective.

“It serves as an inspiration. A lot people deal with much harder things than we do, so it kind of puts basketball into perspective.”

Her mother agreed. Basketball does serve as a great distraction to daily struggles outside of the arena.

“I love going down on the court, being between those 94 feet and being with those ladies and my coaching staff. That has brought me great joy and a challenge to forget about what else is going on in your day and your world.”

The large crowd expected at the TD Bank Sports Center and the game being televised on ESPNU has the Bobcats excited to get revenge on the Gaels.

“Anytime we can play in front of a good crowd gets us amped up and gives us more of a home-court advantage,” Carly said. “Iona got us earlier this season so it’s a bit of a payback game. Every game at this point in the season means a lot.”

“I’m super excited,” Manz said, who only has a couple more home games left in her career. “I think I can speak for everyone on our team that we want them again, especially after the loss we had at their place. They’re coming in to our place and we’ve got to defend our home, and we’re ready.”

The Bobcats seem to be ready. During the three-game winning streak, they’re scoring 76.3 points per game and shooting about 43 percent from the floor.

And the extra motivation to make an impact is something that won’t go unnoticed.

“Everyone has been touched, and they battle through it every day with love and support,” coach Fabbri said. “The game just gives everyone a little reason to cheer.”

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