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Quinnipiac’s cinderella season ends at the hands of No. 1 seed South Carolina, 100-58

Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Morey Hershgordon

It was A’ja Wilson early and it was A’ja Wilson often.

South Carolina’s talented 6-foot-5 forward was too much for Quinnipiac to handle Saturday afternoon at Stockton Arena. She led all scorers at halftime with 16 points and cruised to 24 points as the top-seeded Gamecocks ended the Bobcats magical run, 100-58, in the Sweet Sixteen.

“I thought they were very good all day long,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “We knew would have our hands full. The lone remark I made yesterday, I knew that they were very good defensively. They disrupted us all day long in terms of us offensively feeling comfortable.”

In the blink of an eye, South Carolina jumped out to a 16-0 lead. The Gamecocks suffocating defense held the Bobcats scoreless until the 2:51 mark when a pair of Jen Fay free throws put them on the board. By the time 10 minutes had passed, it was 22-7.

Despite the lopsided score at the end of one, Quinnipiac had its share of open looks. Unlike against Marquette and Miami (Fl.), they didn’t fall.

“I thought we were playing very quickly with our shots to start the game.” Fabbri said, disappointed in her teams poise and composure from the start noting the lack of patience when shots didn’t drop.

On the other end, Wilson had her game on display. Whether it was posting up down low and finishing with two or three Bobcats draped on her, draining jump shots from 10 to 15 feet out, or putting the ball on the floor and converting gracefully at the rim, the All-American made work relatively easy in the paint. She also didn’t miss one of her 10 free throw attempts.

While Wilson carved Quinnipiac down low, guard Kaela Davis had it going on from the wing. The junior drilled five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 28 points. The Georgia native was dressed in her team warmups the entire fourth quarter.

“Get my feet set, just making sure, kind of staying in rhythm,” she said in regards to trying to get in a flow after not playing for five days. “Like Coach said, it feels like we’ve been out for a long time with the gap between games. I think it’s just like I said, just finding rhythm and staying in a rhythm.”

The Bobcats played the Gamecocks close in the second quarter, 23-20, as they shot about 73 percent from the field including a perfect 4-for-4 from long range. Adily Martucci, who’s been on all three of Quinnipiac’s NCAA Tournament teams, had seven of her team-high 12 points in that frame.

“Indescribable,” she said holding back tears as she tried to put five years into perspective. “The best years of my life. I’m just so proud to be a Bobcat and to be a part of this family. It’s really hard to describe my five years here because it’s been so amazing and just the growth that I’ve witnessed with our program and within myself.”

“It’s always been the greatest part,” the captain’s coach added. “Not only this year but in years past. To step back and see the young ladies go through their freshman year to their senior year. The process of them mature and watching them become who they’re meant to become is amazing. Ultimately that’s the greatest joy in coaching. Knowing that you, in some way, hope that you helped.”

“And Adily is no exception.”

Not only did Fabbri guide Martucci and senior Morgan Manz through great careers, but also she paved the way for future mid-major programs hoping to achieve the success her Bobcats had this season.

“We put our school on the map,” redshirt sophomore Jen Fay noted. “Not only do people know how to pronounce our school now but they also know who we are and what we stand for and what we’re all about. The biggest thing is that we left our mark.”

There is no debate that Saturday’s loss is tough to swallow. But for Martucci, who delivered in two of arguably Quinnipiac’s greatest wins in the history of the school, her team’s impact will be felt for years to come.

“I think we inspired a lot of people back home. It’s just inspiring to be an inspiration.”

Extras:

  • Adily Martucci finishes her career with a 136-36 record, including three conference championship rings and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. She exits Hamden just 39 points shy of 1,000.
  • Quinnipiac will most likely finish ranked in the AP Top-25 Poll for the first time in program history.
  • The 100 points Quinnipiac allowed is the most since the 111 they surrendered against Oklahoma in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
  • South Carolina advances to the Elite Eight on Monday night. The Gamecocks will face the winner of No. 2 seed Oregon State and No. 3 Florida State for a trip to the Final Four.

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