Quinnipiac makes history, fends off Marquette’s late-game push to win 68-65 in NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy John Hassett 

By: Sierra Goodwill

As the final buzzer sounded and Marquette guard Natisha Heideman’s 3-point shot rimmed in and out, Quinnipiac was written in to the history books.

Quinnipiac women’s basketball completed the No. 12/No. 5 seed upset on Saturday afternoon, defeating Marquette 68-65 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

This marks the program’s first victory in the big dance and is now just one win away from the Sweet 16.

“This team deserves recognition,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “We flew, unjustly, under the radar going into the tournament.”

The Golden Eagles never led the entire contest, as the Bobcats started the game on a 9-0 run and led by as much as 19 points in the third quarter.

Dictating the pace was essential for Quinnipiac.

“We get every team’s best effort every night,” sophomore Jen Fay said. “We just had to stay relaxed and be poised and we got the job done.”

The Big East tournament champions, however, were not going to go down easy. Marquette’s fourth quarter push kept them within seven points the entire final frame, coming as close as two.

“A team like Marquette comes at you offensively,” Fabbri said. “They made their push and their run, but not only did we defend in the biggest spots, we had the right answer in the clutch spots.”

Fay was the one with the answer for the Bobcats time after time. The redshirt sophomore netted 20 points and showed off her versatility and ball handling skills in clutch moments.

“Incredible. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a performance from her of that nature,” Fabbri said. “She’s a completely talented player offensively, great IQ, and you just got to witness on a big stage just how good she is with the ball. She wanted the ball all game long.”

Arguably the most important play of the game came with 20 seconds left, when Hiedeman dialed up a three pointer that would have given Marquette the lead.

Fifth year senior Adily Martucci swatted it away, getting all ball, and saving her Quinnipiac career.

Photo courtesy John Hassett

“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.”

After the MAAC Championship game Martucci guaranteed she was not hanging up her jersey until she made history. It wasn’t easy, but she fulfilled her promise.

“We just knew that we had to stay strong, we had to stay gritty and mentally tough,” she said. “That’s who we’ve been all year.”

The Bobcats, who often fall victim to slow starts and ice cold shooting early on in games, shot 67 percent from the field in the first half and 53 percent in the game.

Fabbri had a feeling that her team would have the hot hand on Saturday.

“Our shoot around this morning was the best it has ever been,” the head coach said. “The laser focus, the ready to go. I texted (athletic director Greg Amodio) saying ‘we’re going to be hard to beat today.’”

With one big upset under their belt, Tricia Fabbri and Co. have another tough task in front of them on Monday. Quinnipiac will face No. 4 seed and host Miami (Fl.) in the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. The time has yet to be determined, but the game will air on ESPN2.

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