After a record-smashing performance in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round, the UConn women’s basketball team will take on in-state foe Quinnipiac Monday night at Gampel Pavilion for a chance to head to Albany for the Sweet 16. UConn students can visit the athletic ticket office Monday to pick up free tickets to the final home game of the season.
No. 1 UConn (33-0) defeated Saint Francis (PA) 140-52 Saturday afternoon, setting records for points and assists in an NCAA Tournament game, among others. No. 9 seed Quinnipiac (28-5) defeated No. 8 Miami 86-72 in its first round game to set up a date with the Huskies.
The two Connecticut programs have only met once in women’s basketball, a 1998 matchup that resulted in a 117-20 victory by the Huskies. However, Quinnipiac has been a program on the rise recently, including a Sweet 16 appearance as a No. 12 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“Looking forward to the competition and the game (Monday) with UConn. A nice in-state matchup, I know a lot of people were hoping for this,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “So we held up our end of the bargain and we’re ready to go.”
Playing UConn is a tough task for any school, but the Bobcats made it clear that they expect to compete Monday night.
“A lot of teams, they talk themselves into a loss before they even play. And I think (Quinnipiac) is embracing it…and I think that’s admirable,” Auriemma said. “That’s the way you’re supposed to do it.”
The Bobcats will be led by redshirt junior forward Jen Fay, who leads the team with 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Fay scored 19 in Quinnipiac’s first round victory but shot just 3-11 from the 3-point line.
Monday’s game will be the final home game of the season for the Huskies and the last time playing in Storrs for seniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams. Nurse and Williams have never lost in Gampel Pavilion, going 35-0 over their four-year careers.
“It’s their last Gampel game ever, so we want to make sure we have a great game and our team… it’s our last time playing in front of our fans at home this season,” UConn junior Katie Lou Samuelson said. “We want to make sure we’re ready to go and really send them out on the right note.”
Coming off a dominant victory, the Huskies know they have to remain focused and keep their eyes on the prize to avoid slipping up Monday.
“We know there’s always little things that we can get better at and we can really focus on making sure everything we do is the same no matter who we’re playing,” Samuelson said.
Auriemma, who famously sported a Quinnipiac shirt during their NCAA Tournament run last season, has spoken highly of the Bobcats and Fabbri. He expects an inspired opponent and a much different game than Saturday’s blowout.
“We have a game (Monday) against a really good team that plays exceptionally well together,” Auriemma said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an easy game for us, but I like the way our team played (Saturday) and I’m anxious to get going.”
The Huskies and Bobcats will face off at 6:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion and the game will be aired on ESPN2.
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.