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Marquette’s Natisha Hiedeman “never heard of” Quinnipiac coming into NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Sierra Goodwill

“Quinni-who?” is often the response people give when hearing the name of the quaint private school in Hamden, CT.

On Monday, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket was released and the selection committee decided that No. 12 seed Quinnipiac, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion, was to face No. 5 seed Marquette, Big East Conference tournament champion, in the first round.

Golden Eagles sophomore guard Natisha Hiedeman was questioned about her initial reaction to playing the Bobcats.

“I’d never heard of it.”

  

Second in from the right, #5 Natisha Hiedeman stretches before NCAA Tournament practice

That’s not the first time Quinnipiac’s starting guard Carly Fabbri has ever heard that. She believes the elevation of the program’s success in the last few years warrants them a little more recognition.

“It’s nothing new to us,” she said of Hiedeman’s comment. “I think a lot of teams we play from bigger conferences have trouble pronouncing our name. They don’t really know where we’re from, even though we have been a mid-major power for the past couple of years.”

Instead of taking it as an insult, Fabbri and her team use the lack of identification as fuel to their fire.

“It’s just an extra push. We’re motivated as it is. We’ve had this goal since the summer, we wanted to win our championship in the league, which we did, and we want to win a game and the NCAA Tournament. I think we’re just a little bit more focused on ourselves.”

The Bobcats come from a conference where the schools have an average of just over 5,000 students compared to the Big East conference where schools average a little more than 12,000 students. So, players and coaches have to work even harder to gain respect.

Fabbri and her teammates are ready to accomplish the upset over No. 5 seed Marquette in the first round on Saturday.

“If they don’t know who we are,” she said.

“They’re going to know who we are tomorrow.”

RELATED: Teams use Friday as final tune up before highly anticipated matchup

A team from the MAAC has never advanced further than the Sweet Sixteen in the big dance. Senior Morgan Manz says her team is going to make sure that Quinnipiac gives the conference more attention and represents it well.

“I definitely think it’s an honor to represent the MAAC,” Manz said. “There is only one team that gets to be sent here. You have to win your conference. So being able to come here represent the MAAC in the best way we can, we’re going to go out there and hopefully we can do our best.”

Head coach Tricia Fabbri, Carly’s mom, also has no problem tuning out the noise about Quinnipiac’s lack of recognition. She’s confident that her squad’s performance in the first round of the NCAA Tournament might surprise some people.

“I’ve said the word time and again we talked a lot about grit, resilience, finding ways. We haven’t gotten out to our best starts. That’s been maybe just who we are, but we have been resilient,” the head coach said.

“There’s no panic; there’s poise in how we find ways to win. And that’s what I would expect from this team tomorrow.”

RELATED: Quinnipiac’s team preview. Marquette’s team preview. 

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