(AP) — Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri walked across the court after the final buzzer, her arms in the air as she looked toward the Bobcats’ fan base.
“Welcome to March Madness,” Fabbri said.
And welcome to the second round, Quinnipiac.
Jennifer Fay scored 20 points and 12th-seeded Quinnipiac held on in a frantic final minute to upset fifth-seeded Marquette 68-65 on Saturday in a Stockton Region first-round game at the NCAA Tournament. The Bobcats (28-6) led by 19 points midway through the third quarter, saw the lead cut to two late but prevailed when Natisha Hiedeman’s 3-pointer for Marquette rimmed out as time expired.
“I think we really flew unjustly into the NCAA Tournament,” Fabbri said. “The only way that was going to change was a win here today. And we took care of business.”
Paula Strautmane scored seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Bobcats, who never trailed. Strautmane made a pair of free throws with 17.6 seconds left to give Quinnipiac a 67-63 lead, then added another for a three-point edge with 2.8 seconds left.
The last shot was drawn up for Heideman, who got a good look from the left wing.
“When I shot it, it looked good,” Heideman said. “It was halfway down. Just wasn’t supposed to go in, I guess.”
Erika Davenport scored a game-high 21 points for Marquette (25-8), the Big East tournament champions whose eight-game winning streak was snapped. Allazia Blockton scored 14 and Heideman finished with 13 for the Golden Eagles, who were making their first NCAA trip since 2011.
“I’m really proud of our whole entire program,” said Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger, a former Miami assistant who finished her third season coaching at her alma mater. “We’ve come a long way in three years and I’m glad we got to have this experience. We’re just getting started. We have to remember this pain, and use it as motivation.”
The last shot of the game was one of two good looks Marquette had to tie the game in the final 20 seconds. Hiedeman’s 15-footer was blocked by Quinnipiac’s Adily Martucci, and the Bobcats wound up giving the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference its first women’s NCAA Tournament win since Marist prevailed in a first-round game in 2012.
“I thought we deserved to win,” Fay said.
Quinnipiac, which has now won 11 straight games and got its first NCAA tourney win in program history, also got 11 points from Aryn McClure. Quinnipiac will face either Miami or Florida Gulf Coast in the second round on Monday night.
“When we won the MAAC championship close to two weeks ago, I told my young ladies to enjoy the moment,” Fabbri said. “But I also said don’t be satisfied. We weren’t finished, yet.”
They still aren’t.
Quinnipiac: The Bobcats came into Saturday averaging 16 assists per game this season, and had 15 by halftime Saturday. … Quinnipiac is now 21-2 when leading at halftime and 16-5 when playing away from its home court in Hamden, Connecticut this season. … The average score after one quarter of a Quinnipiac game this season was 15-15. The Bobcats were up 26-13 after one on Saturday.
Marquette: All eight of Marquette’s losses this season came to teams that were unranked. The Golden Eagles were 6-0 when facing teams that were ranked in AP Top 25. … Marquette outrebounded Quinnipiac 33-26, but gave up 23 points off turnovers to the Bobcats’ 11.
Tricia Fabbri, before leaving the court: “Hey, the weather’s too good to go back home.”
Quinnipiac’s rotation Saturday included five players who appeared in the Bobcats’ most-recent NCAA game, a blowout loss to Oklahoma in 2015. Those five players — Fay, Carly Fabbri, Sarah Shewan, Morgan Manz and Martucci — combined for 41 points Saturday.
Marquette started four sophomores, and the top five scorers on the Golden Eagles’ roster this season are all eligible to return.