Coral Gables, FL -- Home-court advantage. A higher seed. Older players. More recognition. A tougher schedule. Miami had several advantages over Quinnipiac, but even with a stadium full of screaming fans decked out in Hurricane apparel, they were still unable to pull out a win.
The No. 12 Quinnipiac women’s basketball team played No. 4 Miami in an NCAA tournament second-round game on Monday night at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida.
The Quinnipiac Bobcats (28-6) had never won an NCAA Tournament game before beating Marquette 68-65 on Saturday. However, they were confident going into Monday’s game having won 11 games in a row.
“We didn’t look at the team name on their shirts. We were here to play Quinnipiac basketball,” said Morgan Manz, who scored six of her team’s 15 three-pointers.
Although Miami (24-8) almost fell short in Saturday’s game against 13th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast (62-60), the Canes had several advantages over the Bobcats, including home-court advantage and experience. Quinnipiac starts four sophomores and one senior while Miami opens with three seniors and two juniors.
The Hurricanes are also a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and with that comes more difficult schedule than the Bobcats, who are part of the MAAC conference. Miami is 10-1 all-time in the state of Florida in postseason play, including 7-1 at home and 3-0 in the NCAA tournament.
After going 1-14 from the three in Saturday’s game, Miami head coach Katie Meier said the team needed to work three-pointers, something their competition Quinnipiac excelled at.
“We will get wherever we need to be for Monday, we will get there,” Coach Meier said.
And by the looks of the first quarter alone, it was evident that the Canes had been practicing shooting from the three-point range. Junior forward and Florida native Keyanna Harris and senior guard Jessica Thomas each put 10 points on the board for Miami, including two three-pointers a piece.
The Bobcats, on the other hand, topped the Hurricanes with six three-pointers: junior forward Sarah Shewan and senior forward Morgan Manz each with two, and junior guard Carly Fabbri and sophomore forward Jen Fay each with one. Quinnipiac led Miami 25-22 at the end of the first quarter.
It was still raining threes in the second quarter for the Bobcats. Fabbri, Manz and sophomore forward Paula Strautmane all scored 3-points for Quinnipiac, while Fay’s two jumpers tacked on four more points. Thomas led Miami with seven points in the second stanza, including her third three-pointer of the game. The Bobcats gained an even bigger edge on Miami, ending the first half 43-36.
In the third, senior guard Adily Martucci sank two three-pointers, but, on the contrary, obtained her fourth foul for Quinnipiac. Thomas and senior Keyona Hayes helped close the gap, tallying six points individually for the Canes. Miami went 6-0, but Manz broke the streak with a three-pointer.
“I just did what my coaches have been asking of me for the last three years, and that’s shoot the ball,” Manz said. “The one thing I focused on today was shooting higher than I usually do.”
Hopeful fans in orange and green were loudly cheering from the stands, as Miami wrapped up the third period at a five-point deficit, 60-55.
The Hurricanes were strong in the final quarter, with only 10 minutes remaining to potentially win the game. Thomas landed a career-high 25 total points for Miami, as Hayes guided the Canes bagging 12 points in the final 10 minutes. However, they couldn’t quite keep up with Manz’s 10 points for the Bobcats, two of which were three-pointers, compounded with another three points by Martucci.
With a hard fight, Miami fell short to Quinnipiac, 85-78.
The loss was especially hard for Hurricane seniors Thomas and Hayes. “We kept pushing, we kept trying. We thought we could do better,” Hayes said. “I wasn’t prepared for this at all. It’s hard. Today is the last time we’ll be wearing a Miami jersey.”
“I honestly just didn’t think this would be the last time I could play for Katie Meier. Us seniors wanted to take the program somewhere it’s never been,” said Thomas.
“I’m sad because I love my team so much. The school and the community really stepped up for us,” Coach Meier said. “I don’t think we did a heck of a lot horribly, they [Quinnipiac] were just really special tonight. We played well and still got beat.”
The Bobcats, on the other hand, rejoiced and cheered when the final buzzer sounded.
“Moving forward in a bracket creates excitement. I think we flew under the radar getting into the tournament. This team was very confident. We made the most of our opportunities this weekend,” Coach Tricia Fabbri said. “Our fans expected us to win, so that was no surprise to them.”
The Bobcats will now advance to the Sweet 16, where they will play top-seed South Carolina on Saturday in Stockton, California.