UConn's Auriemma has an answer for naysayers following 88-point victory

UConn coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline during the Huskies' record-setting 140-52 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday in Storrs. UConn plays Quinnipiac in the second round on Monday night. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
UConn coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline during the Huskies' record-setting 140-52 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday in Storrs. UConn plays Quinnipiac in the second round on Monday night. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Storrs — The disparaging remarks by social media commentators were swift to follow after top-seeded and unbeaten UConn's 140-52 dismantling Saturday of Saint Francis (Pa.) during the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament at Gampel Pavilion.

There were extenuating circumstances. Saint Francis coach Joe Haigh admittedly chose not to guard UConn's post players, who proceeded to score 96 “points in the paint,” according to the official box score.

Haigh also chose the pace of the game, up and down, fast, as it was the normal Saint Francis style.

Auriemma was somewhat subdued Saturday, repeatedly shaking his head at what transpired.

One commenter on theday.com, however, called the outcome a “disgrace.” USA Today's Josh Peter, meanwhile, wrote a short commentary on the game in which he said Auriemma should be embarrassed in light of the coach being in “celebratory spirits” afterward. Peter said the Hall of Famer, Auriemma, seemed to relish what happened.

On Sunday, prior to Monday's second-round game against No. 9 Quinnipiac, Auriemma took a minute and a half or so to answer.

“People are almost, like, dying to get a game like that so that they can rise up and talk about the disparity in college basketball,” Auriemma said. “Last time I checked, the same four teams won the national championship in football every year.

“… So this happens. It happens. It's not something that's unique to just women's basketball. But it happens. It's rare, but it happens. I don't think that's indicative of where women's basketball is just because that happened.

“The dope from USA Today, I don't even know his name, but he didn't even see the game. He doesn't know what happened. He didn't talk to the other coach. If he ever wrote a lot of good articles and someone said he was too good to write … but that'll never happen, so he doesn't have to worry about the things we have to worry about. We just try to play basketball.”

UConn set NCAA tournament single-game records with 55 points in a quarter, 94 points in a half and with the 140-point final. The 88-point margin of victory was second all-time following an 89-point win by Baylor against Texas Southern in last year's opening round, 119-30.

That's 'Mom' to you

Carly Fabbri grew up in Connecticut, but she's never been a UConn women's basketball fan.

That's because her mom, Tricia, is the head coach at Quinnipiac and that's where Carly's loyalties lie.

A 2014 graduate of Lauralton Hall High School, where she won the Class LL state championship as a senior, Carly is now a 5-foot-7 senior guard for the Quinnipiac team which will take on UConn.

“I spent a lot of my days in Burt Kahn Court or at TD Bank up at Quinnipiac,” Carly said this week. “Obviously, UConn is a dynasty and I am very familiar with them, but I'm more of a Bobcat fan. When you think of Connecticut, you think UConn basketball, but I think in the past couple of years we have done a good job of getting our name out there and for the country to know who Quinnipiac is.”

Tricia Fabbri said the relationship as coach and player was a little bit awkward at first.

Carly didn't know what to call her, “Mom” or “coach,” so sometimes she just said nothing. Now, it's second nature, with Carly and Tricia each admiring the other's work ethic as the Bobcats have continued to accumulate success.

Carly averages 9.8 points and 4.2 assists per game for the Bobcats (28-5), who have made three NCAA tournament appearance during her career.

“To have her be a part of this journey from a very young age and for her to have a love and a passion and share that with her mother and to do this at the pinnacle is incredible,” Tricia Fabbri said. “To have her with the ball in her hands and with a great team around her, it's so special. She's been just as invested as the head coach and that's pretty special to say.”

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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