Miami, Quinnipiac ready for shot at Sweet 16
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Miami coach Katie Meier and Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri spent time together in Portugal last summer, talking about their teams and getting to know each other while watching a European tournament.
Meier was impressed by Fabbri's confidence.
And now she knows it isn't misguided, either.
There were four upsets in the first round of the NCAA Tournament - none bigger than the one pulled off by Quinnipiac. The 12th-seeded Bobcats (28-6) meet the fourth-seeded Hurricanes (24-8) on Monday night, with the winner headed to Stockton, California later this week for a berth in the Sweet Sixteen.
''They don't back down from anyone and they have a chip on their shoulder,'' Meier said. ''They feel like they're an underrated mid-major and they are an underrated mid-major. They're major as far as I'm concerned. And so they don't have to worry about us disrespecting them, because it's not going to happen.''
Someone is certain to make some history in this one.
Quinnipiac has never played an NCAA second-round game, and no member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has made the regional semifinals since Marist in 2007. Miami made its only Sweet Sixteen trip in 1992, and the Hurricanes have never won two games in an NCAA tournament.
''We're going to have our hands full on a home court that has a great crowd,'' Fabbri said. ''But this is why you play this game at this time of year. We're one in a field of 32. ... We are going to be ready for the moment.''
Both needed the full 40 minutes to win first-rounders on Saturday.
Quinnipiac never trailed fifth-seeded Marquette, though things got highly interesting - the Bobcats saw a 19-point lead trimmed to two, and the Golden Eagles had a potentially game-tying 3-pointer rim out at the buzzer. Miami actually fell behind 13th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast twice in the final minutes, and Keyona Hayes' basket with 1.5 seconds left was the gamewinner.
''I expect them to come out with everything,'' Quinnipiac's Adily Martucci said. ''We're just ready to defend whatever they're going to throw out at us.''
For Miami center Emese Hof, the Sweet Sixteen was a truly foreign term not long ago. Hof and teammate Laura Cornelius grew up in the Netherlands, and Hof didn't fully understand the intricacies of the NCAA Tournament until she arrived in Coral Gables.
''To be able to live that American dream, almost, it's great,'' Hof said. ''It would be a blessing to get an opportunity like that.''
Here's some of what to know going into Quinnipiac-Miami:
MAGIC NUMBERS: Quinnipiac is 26-2 when scoring at least 60 points this season, 2-4 when held to 59 or less. Miami is 19-1 when grabbing at least 35 rebounds, 5-7 when it doesn't.
THE MADNESS: Quinnipiac is 4-0 in March, those wins coming by five, five, eight and three points. Miami's last three games have been decided by a total of nine points, with the Hurricanes going 2-1 in those contests.
FAREWELLS: Win or lose, Monday will be the final home game for Miami starters Adrienne Motley, Jessica Thomas and Keyona Hayes. All three are among the top 20 active scorers in the Atlantic Coast Conference. ''We all want to go far for them,'' Miami guard Laura Cornelius said.
MAAC PRIDE: Quinnipiac's conference rivals are now big Bobcats fans. Siena coach Ali Jaques tweeted congratulations to Quinnipiac after the first-round win, and Fabbri said other schools have reached out as well. ''The camaraderie among the coaches, that is what I truly value coaching in the MAAC,'' Fabbri said. The MAAC is 0-4 against the ACC this season and Quinnipiac is 0-2 all-time against Miami.
STREAKING: Quinnipiac's current 11-game winning streak is the second-longest active by a school from the state of Connecticut. Put another way, it was also the third-longest nationally entering Sunday, behind only UConn (108) and Notre Dame (15).