Waterford's Martucci trying to make history at Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac guard Adily Martucci of Waterford (3) drives past Rider guard Stella Johnson during the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament final on March 6 at Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Adily Martucci received numerous congratulatory messages this week leading up to Quinnipiac University's NCAA tournament appearance on Saturday.

Several good luck wishes came from hometown friends in Waterford. A former high school teammate reached out.

One touching message stood out.

In fact, it made her cry.

"It was really sweet,"  Martucci said. "I actually got a message from my former coach's daughter (Morgan). My high school coach was Rob Von Achen. As you know, he had passed away. She sent me this beautiful message just saying that she saw me on the news and it made her think of her father and that I should know that he would be proud of me for the basketball player that I've become.

"That meant so much to me. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I just told her, 'thank you very much, it means the world.' I honestly couldn't have done it without his help. All of my coaches throughout my years have been a big part of me growing as a person and as a player and he was definitely one of them."

Martucci recently became the first player in Quinnipiac women's basketball program history to win three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships.

Now she'll try to help the Bobcats (27-6), the No. 12 seed, make school history. They'll attempt to win their first NCAA tournament game Saturday afternoon (1:30) against No. 5 Marquette (25-7) at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

"They're a good team," Martucci said of Marquette. "They won their conference and made it to the tournament. We're just ready for whatever is going to be thrown at us. We really do have nothing to lose."

A redshirt senior guard and leading scorer at 10.6 points per game, Martucci is determined to end her career in style. She elevated her play in the MAAC Championship run, earning tournament most valuable player honors after averaging a team-high 16.3 points per game and also playing her usual brand of stellar defense.

Quinnipiac clinched the program's third NCAA berth with an 81-73 win over Rider in the conference title game on March 6.

"It was just an amazing experience at the end," said Martucci, an All-MAAC second team selection. "It was really indescribable the feeling after we knew we had won. I had already put my sights on the championship after we had lost (last year). Right after I cried a lot and then we just went right back to work.

"The season is long and it's hard and sometimes you forget what you are doing it all for. When you win a huge game like that, it just goes to show you how much it is really worth it. ... I would have never imagined that I would get (MVP). That was just a cherry on top."

Quinnipiac will continue to lean on Martucci's experience in the NCAA tournament. Martucci will be appearing in her 118th career game.

This also is Martucci's third NCAA tournament trip with Quinnipiac. She sat out the 2013 season as a redshirt when the Bobcats lost to host Maryland 72-52 in an NCAA tournament opener. In 2015, she played a reserve role when her team dropped an 111-84 first-round decision to Oklahoma in Stanford, Calif.

"The first two were amazing experiences," Martucci said. "The national tournament does a great job with making you feel like you mean something and that you're something special. This year is going to be no different.

"The only difference is that this is my last year, my senior year. This one means a lot just because we also want to try to make history. We've been trying to do that for the three years that we have entered into the tournament. I feel like this year it seems a little bit more realistic and a little bit more attainable.

"But, we'll see. You never know what will happen. We're just lucky to be part of the tournament and we're going to do whatever it takes to get a win."

Martucci, a team captain the last two seasons, planned on talking to her teammates about being poised and relaxed in the pressure-packed tournament atmosphere.

No mater the result, it has been a memorable senior season for the former Waterford standout.

"Honestly, an experience of a lifetime," Martucci said. "It's something that I couldn't even imagine. It's such a blessing to be part of this experience."

g.keefe@theday.com

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