Most importantly, the Huskies advanced to the second round where they will face the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Despite establishing themselves as the top two programs in the state of Connecticut, UConn and Quinnipiac have only faced each other once before, in a game very reminiscent of the Huskies’ opening round beatdown.
Back in 1998, Quinnipiac — then known as the Braves, not Bobcats — were in their first season of Division I basketball. They were 2-7 while the top-ranked Huskies came in with an 8-0 record.
“I remember we had a really good team, maybe as good of a team as we had up to that point,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think we were actually better than the team we have now in some ways. We were really hard to play against.”
Quinnipiac’s head coach Tricia Fabbri was in just her third year as a coach but remembers being excited to play the best team in the nation despite having a far inferior squad.
“It was a unique opportunity and you wanted to see yourself against the best,” she said. “We saw ourselves against the best.”
Indeed they did. UConn gave them quite the welcoming to Division I basketball, beating the Braves 117-20.
The headline from the Hartford Courant read “As UConn Executes, Quinnipiac is Swiftly Executed.” To this day, it stands as the widest margin-of-victory (97), the fewest points allowed (20) and the most made field goals (49) in program history.
Current assistant coach Shea Ralph led all scorers with 18 points and the Huskies finished with seven players in double-figures. Two players set career-highs as senior Amy Duran dished out 11 assists and sophomore Marci Glenney scored 14 points.
It’s fitting the two teams’ second meeting comes this season as the Huskies have come close to breaking the records from that game a few times during the year. Against Cincinnati in the AAC Tournament, UConn held the Bearcats to just 21 points, one more than the Braves managed. Last game vs. Saint Francis, the Huskies won by 88 points, nine points short of the mark set against Quinnipiac.
Much has changed since that first meeting. UConn had just a single national championship and had been to just two Final Fours total. Now, the Huskies are the most decorated in program in women’s college basketball with 11 titles.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, have firmly established themselves as the second-best program in Connecticut after making the NCAA Tournament three of the last four years and going on a run to the Sweet 16 as a 12-seed last season. Fabbri hopes to use this game as a measuring stick for her program.
“Tomorrow night we’ll have the chance 20 years later to see what we’ve accomplished inside those years,” she said. “This program now compared to then was in it’s infancy stages. Where we are as a team compared to then is night and day.”
It’s a bit surprising the two teams haven’t faced each other in the last two decades, but it’s not for a lack of trying.
“They haven’t called since ,” Auriemma joked. “Except a couple years ago we had something scheduled with them but something came up and we had to postpone it. But I’m sure we’ll do it again.”
However, any future scheduling still needs to be worked out.
“We haven’t had any discussions,” Fabbri said. “I guess a lot will depend on what happens tomorrow night.”