The University of Miami women’s basketball team will play its final home game of the season Sunday night at 9 p.m., with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
No. 16/16 Miami (24-8, 10-6 ACC), the fourth seed in the Stockton Region, will take on No. 12-seed Quinnipiac at the Watsco Center in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Hurricanes, making their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last seven seasons, are 2-0 all-time against Quinnipiac. In the most recent contest, Miami registered a 93-48 home triumph against the Bobcats on March 28, 2009.
In the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Miami edged No. 13-seed FGCU, 62-60, Saturday evening on a basket by redshirt senior forward Keyona Hayes with 1.5 seconds left. The Marietta, Ga., native led all players in points (16) and rebounds (10), while sophomore forward/center Emese Hof posted a season-high-tying 14 points in the victory.
Quinnipiac knocked off fifth-seeded and RV/No. 25-ranked Marquette, 68-65, Saturday afternoon in the opening round. The Bobcats are 28-6 (17-3 MAAC) on the season and are led in scoring by redshirt sophomore forward Jen Fay, who averages 10.5 points per game.
This is the sixth consecutive postseason appearance for the Bobcats, including their third NCAA Tournament berth in the past five years. Quinnipiac, which has 25-plus wins for the third straight year, finished the 2015-16 campaign at 25-9 (17-3) and reached the second round of the WNIT.
Monday night’s game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 with Jenn Hildreth and Steffi Sorensen on the call.
On Sunday afternoon coach Katie Meier and players spoke about the upcoming challenge:
CANES FROM A QUINNIPIAC PERSPECTIVE
The Lady Canes advanced to the Round of 32 yesterday, and now Quinnipiac stands in the way of UM's Sweet 16 berth. The teams will face off at the Watsco Center on Monday at 9 p.m.
Here's what UM's opponent was talking about today:
THE MODERATOR: We have the 12th seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions and they defeated Marquette, 68-65. We have Coach Tricia Fabbri, Carly Fabbri, Adily Martucci and Jen Fay up here.
TRICIA FABBRI: Yesterday was certainly an exciting day for our team, our alumni, our fans and the university. It was a great day. Once we were able to relax and enjoy a little bit we certainly buckled down and got to work on our next opponent once we found out that it was going to be Miami. Our focus and attention has been on Miami since last night. Today we woke up ready, all ready to film and scout and prepare for the Hurricanes tomorrow night.
Q. Jen, you said you have done film and scout already, right? Obviously, they exploited inside yesterday and you guys had some success in the paint as well. How important do you see that battle being tomorrow?
JEN FAY: Yeah, I think they're a very different team than Marquette. They're more physical and obviously bigger. We've played against a lot of teams that been bigger than us throughout the season, so we're going to use our speed and try and run the floor and I think that will help us.
Q. Your stated goal at the start of the season you wanted to win an NCAA Tournament game make history that way. Now that you've done that do you have to guard against any let-down, not being as amped for tomorrow, or do you think that will not be an issue?
ADILY MARTUCCI: We're amped for this game tomorrow, there is no let-up. At the very least we wanted one win and tomorrow is another day to make more history. That's what it is.
Q. Carly, what's it like playing for your mom?
CARLY FABBRI: It's been a great experience. I think the opportunity for us to have made history together is really awesome. Not a lot of people can say they have, A, won game in the tournament; and, B, done it playing for their mom. So that's really cool. I think she has kept it very professional, coach and player on the court, off the court obviously it's a bit of a different relationship than everybody else has. An awesome experience and trying to keep it going tomorrow.
Q. Adily, Miami does make some threes, they didn't show it yesterday obviously but they can shoot threes. Their guards were kept in check all game. Do you sort of expect more of a bounce-back from them tomorrow? When you saw their tapes, what jumped out about their guard play?
ADILY MARTUCCI: I expect them to come out with everything. We're just ready to defend whatever they're going to throw out at us. We expect the best game from the guards probably that they'll every play.
Q. For Jen, you guys obviously pulled off an upset yesterday and Florida Gulf Coast gave Miami a scare. Do you see more parity in the women's game?
JEN FAY: I think it's awesome because night in and night out any team can beat anybody and that showed. So Florida Gulf Coast is a great team and it was a close game and it was a lot of fun.
Q. What was the feeling like when you woke up this morning? Did you have to pinch yourself and say, hey, we're going to play Monday night for a chance to play in the Sweet 16?
CARLY FABBRI: I think we all knew this was an attainable goal. Obviously, still waking up in Miami is an amazing, but I think we have the opportunity to get to the Sweet 16. But as much as it may seem "dream-like" it's a real on that we can attain. We are enjoying the experience but also having the mentality that this is a business trip for us.
Q. How do you balance focusing on yourselves rather than the opponent? Which takes precedence?
ADILY MARTUCCI: All season long we have been focusing on ourselves. All that matters is us being our best all the time. That's the reason I think we've been so successful is not really worry being our opponent. Knowing our scout but definitely focusing on being the best version of us every day.
Q. You probably got a sense this was coming. What's it like coaching Carly? What's that experience been like for you?
TRICIA FABBRI: It's been -- I've been so fortunate to have coached as long as I have and have had so many incredible young ladies come through the doors at Quinnipiac. Having your own daughter share in that experience has just added to really putting the cherry on top for me.
I sit up here with Jen Fay, Adily Martucci and Carly Fabbri and every lady that's down here with me and for 22 years that I have coached has been a part of this experience and has helped us achieve what we have achieved this weekend. Every single one of those young ladies, it's been a privilege to coach.
But to share this moment with your daughter is pretty awesome. But to share it with Adily and Jen and this team it's history. It's hard to put into words. It's certainly -- it's really, really nice.
Q. Late last night we find out that it's a 9:00 start. What is the challenge of that? Do you want them to get extra rest, thinking about it all day? How do you manage those where you've got to wait all day to play this game?
TRICIA FABBRI: Great question. First of all, it was actually really exciting because to me Monday night at 9:00 kinda seems like it's the big Monday! Certainly prime time and where we want to be. Two, the time and the start with it being a long day, look at the weather in Miami, not a bad spot to be.
The third component, the rest, is really, really important with the pace, physicality of the game yesterday and at the point where you are in the season the time, the recovery, and the ability to relax right now with the quick turn-around, even with the press conference, the film and the scout, I think that's all key. So I don't think we're going to mind the 9:00 start at all. I think that time is going to help us.
Q. Ally tweeted congratulations to you guys after the game yesterday. I'm sure there were others from the MAAC as well. What's that mean that you spent four months trying to smash each other's heads in yesterday but what was the response from the MAAC?
TRICIA FABBRI: Honestly, I have barely touched my phone and looking with everybody reaching out, but from the administration, the administrators of the MAAC and my colleagues in the MAAC, the support that we received was overwhelming from everybody on the thread and really that is what I have found to be truly unique in my experience at coaching in the MAAC is the comradery among the coaches and that is what I truly value coaching in the MAAC was the tweet and from everybody reaching out.
From the mid-major perspective how they were all like, go in and represent us well, feeling that burden and what we talk about, you know, that upset, that 5-12, the respect, the mid-major shouldering that and winning. The pride that they all had. I was so pleased and was just so proud to represent and see how excited they were for us. Getting that win and championing that cause for all of them. It was awesome.
Q. UConn won by 60 and Baylor won by 20. There were good games here. Are you seeing that gap toward the top getting closed?
TRICIA FABBRI: We saw that last year in the women's Final Four. I believe there are continued, elite programs, and they remain elite. You're starting to see, again, I mentioned from the women's Final Four last year, you're start to go see now maybe programs from five to ten, 11, 12, you're seeing Texas, more programs starting to bubble up, and starting to take that mantle.
You're start to go see more upsets and you're certainly starting to see that now with the 5-12. Unfortunately, we were looking at another 5-12 game late last night that almost happened in another close one. It's happening. It's starting -- the pendulum is starting to slowly happen and the more we can see the results in this tournament as it's slowly starting to shift, the better it's going to be.
Q. Trisha, you shared a special moment with your President, John Lahey. Can you share what he told you after the game and what he shared with your team in the locker room?
TRICIA FABBRI: President Lahey and his wife Judy were here yesterday at the game and he will be here tomorrow night. Just joy! I don't think -- he always hoped just like us making this a reality. He's been the biggest advocate for our university being at its best. What his vision was for this university, the building of York Hill and the arena, Quinnipiac being on the national stage.
It came to fruition seeing his women's basketball team win a game in the NCAA Tournament. It was his plan. We talked about it, our goals and aspirations about winning games in the tournament. He has talked about this plan going forward and he felt like we did, sharing in the joy of attaining that goal and he was so pleased, so happy; and sharing in that moment with the President in our locker room. He was emotional and he was just joyful in sharing that moment with this team and he couldn't have been any happier. It was awesome.
Q. What do you see from Miami, what challenges they present and obviously they will be the home team with the partisan crowd tomorrow night?
TRISHA FABBRI: Look, they're a great team, extremely well-coached. They want to play fast. They have two great lead guards. They've got size. They have depth. They changed their defenses. We're going to have our hands full on a home court that has great crowd, but this is why you play this game this time of year. We're 1 of a field of 32. I firmly believe that our experience going out to Vegas, seeing three games in three days, playing a New Mexico State team that gave Stanford all they could handle. Us playing and beating Long Beach State that we know went wire-to-wire against Oregon State, and seeing Oregon State, all those different style of games in three days has completely compared us for the weekend that we're having. I fully expect that we are going to be prepared. We are going to be ready for the moment again with Miami. It's not going to make it easier. They're talented. They play so hard. They play really well. We certainly have our work cut out for us. We're going to be ready to play, have a plan, go out and execute and certainly leave it all out on the floor for 40-plus minutes because we know it's this game,tomorrow night, that's standing between us and a Sweet 16.