Quinnipiac-Maryland Preview

The Associated Press

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- - In its first foray into the NCAA women's tournament, Quinnipiac didn't take a bus trip south from Connecticut just to practice in a huge arena and serve as fodder for the home team.

No, the 13th-seeded Bobcats are intent upon beating No. 4 seed Maryland on Saturday. They've even outlined the manner in which the first-round upset will occur.

Quinnipiac (30-2) expects to use its depth to wear down the Terrapins (24-7) and utilize its ball-hawking ability to force free-wheeling Maryland into a slew of turnovers.

''Our advantage is they only play eight players or so and we have 10, five who can come in and pick up where the starters left off,'' forward Brittany McQuain said. ''Our depth wore down teams all year. It is one of our biggest advantages going into Saturday.''

The second unit has been dubbed The Gold Rush, which coach Tricia Fabbri says, ''allows our first five to go out and play at an intense level for three or four minutes because they know they're going to get rest.''

The Bobcats are pretty tough on defense, too. They forced a combined 68 turnovers over a three-game stretch to win the Northeast Conference tournament, and now they're going up against a Maryland squad that averages 17 turnovers per game.

Most of all, Quinnipiac wants to prove it can compete against an Atlantic Coast Conference school on the sport's biggest stage.

''This is something we've looked forward to since we were little girls,'' guard Jasmine Martin said. ''We're excited to be here, but at the same time we're not just here to be one and done. We want to give Maryland a run for their money. A lot of people don't know who we are, who don't know how to pronounce Quinnipiac. But at the end of the day, we want people to know who we are, know where Quinnipiac is and what we're about.''

Quinnipiac hopes to duplicate the recent success of Marist, which faces No. 5 seed Michigan State (24-8) in the second game Saturday. The mid-major Red Foxes (26-6) reached the round of 16 in 2007 and won first-round games in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

Quinnipiac has no such history. Not only do the Bobcats have to battle first-game jitters, they've also got to go against a team with a terrific 1-2 scoring punch of Tianna Hawkins and ACC player of the year Alyssa Thomas.

Maryland has missed the NCAA tournament only once since 2003. Quinnipiac guard Gillian Abshire, who went to high school in Maryland, needed no reminder of the Terrapins' success.

''I grew up coming to the games and watching Brenda Frese coach,'' Abshire said. ''I always looked up to this program and thought it was awesome. It's pretty cool coming back and being able to play against them.''

Maryland has no intention of looking past Quinnipiac, which is riding a 22-game winning streak since falling to Georgia Tech on Dec. 29..

''I don't think this team would be where we are if we took a team lightly,'' Frese said. 'They haven't done that all season long, and now you're on the biggest stage, you're in the NCAA tournament. You know what's at stake. If you take a team lightly, you're going home. Your season's over.''

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