COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland coach Brenda Frese chuckled when asked how much she knew about Quinnipiac, her team’s first-round opponent in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
“I’m still learning how to pronounce their name, and the location,” Frese said Monday night after learning 12th-ranked Maryland was the fourth seed in the Bridgeport Region. “It wouldn’t have mattered who it was. We’re ready to go. This is what you play all season long for.”
Quinnipiac (30-2), champion of the Northeast Conference, is a 13th seed. The Connecticut school’s first trip to the NCAA women’s tournament comes as a result of a 72-33 rout of Saint Francis in the league title game.
“Now it’s time for us to do our homework and study up on them,” Frese said. “We’ll get as much film as we can and get our team prepared.”
The Terrapins (24-7) will be making their 21st appearance in the tournament and ninth under Frese. Maryland has lost three of its last five, with both wins coming against Wake Forest, but that is not a cause for concern.
“It’s tournament time. We’re ready for this, we’re not ready to go home and we’re going to play our best basketball,” said forward Alyssa Thomas, the two-time Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.
If Maryland wins the opener, it will face the winner of the Michigan State-Marist game (also be held Saturday).
Connecticut is the top seed in the Bridgeport Region. The Huskies beat Maryland 63-48 in December. Delaware and North Carolina are also in the bracket, but little of this matters to the Terrapins, who will direct all their focus this week on Quinnipiac.
“Of course you look at the teams, but the most important game is the one we play each night,” said Tianna Hawkins, who ranks second behind Thomas in the ACC in scoring.
Since winning the NCAA title as a second seed in 2006, Maryland has been seeded second, first, first, fourth and second in the five years leading up to this one.
“I don’t really look at the number in front,” Frese said. “We’re hosting at Comcast, and it’s survive and advance.”
Maryland is 8-2 in NCAA tournament games at Comcast Center.
“It’s a very huge advantage. We’re comfortable and get to sleep in our own bed,” Thomas said. “And then you have your fans being able to come out and support you.”
Hawkins said farewell to Maryland fans on Senior Night earlier this month. Now she’s got at least one more game at home, maybe two.
“It’s very special. We love playing at home,” she said.
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