FAIRFIELD, Conn. - UMBC women's coach Phil Stern wasn't inclined to address a mundane topic like strategy after last night's Northeast Conference tournament quarterfinal against Quinnipiac.
But there was one thing Stern wanted to make clear.
"I thought we played as hard as we have all year tonight, and that's why we won," he said after seventh-seeded UMBC shocked No. 2 seed Quinnipiac, 66-47. "It had nothing to do with X's and O's. It had nothing to do with what offense we run.
"We played as hard as we could possibly play. When you play as hard as you can, you have a chance to win every night."
The Retrievers (13-15) have another opportunity today when they play a 4 p.m. semifinal game against Monmouth, which defeated Wagner, 51-48, last night.
And with due respect to Stern, UMBC will get another chance to show its X's and O's - a version right out the Princeton men's playbook, which places a premium on passing, cutting and recognizing defenses.
UMBC was at its best in the second half, which began with Quinnipiac (18-10) leading 27-26, as Lara Seamon (12 points) sparked a 9-0 run that put the Retrievers on top 40-31.
"With all the passing they do, their offense kind of lulls you to sleep," said Quinnipiac coach Tricia Sacca-Fabbri. "Then, they strike pretty quickly."
The Bobcats struck back when Helen Ridley came off the bench and sandwiched a pair of three-point shots around a left-wing jumper.
That burst cut UMBC's lead to 46-43 with 6:27 left, but quickly, Jessie Brown (16 points) hit a three that accomplished two things: It deflated Quinnipiac's rally, and it also ignited a UMBC surge during which the Retrievers outscored the Bobcats 20-4.
"I knew I was wide-open and Millette [Green] made a good pass," Brown said. "I wasn't even thinking about it being a big shot."
Stern begged to differ.
"I think that's a senior making a big shot at a big time," he said. "Jessie Brown is supposed to do that. She stepped up and wanted to shoot it."
As well as UMBC shot, Quinnipiac was ice cold, scoring a season-low 47 points for a second straight game against the Retrievers.
While Sacca-Fabbri pondered why her team has such problems against UMBC, Stern felt his team's ability to keep NEC Player of the Year Ashlee Kelly (11 points) in check was key.
"She's a great player, but we tried to double her with Jessie," Stern said, relishing UMBC's first postseason triumph in nine years.
"And we tried to take away her drop step to the outside shoulder to the baseline, which is the way she scores. But Millette and Tiffany [Cole] did a great job of not letting her get great position."
UMBC-Green 4-8 3-3 11, Seamon 5-5 1-2 12, Catalanotto 3-8 2-2 9, Brown 5-10 4-5 16, Johnson 5-11 0-0 12, Santos 0-1 0-0 0, Goncharova 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 24-48 10-12 66. QUINNIPIAC-Esidore 7-16 0-0 16, M.Smith 3-5 1-2 7, Kelly 3-9 5-6 11, Cassidy 0-6 0-0 0, Rooney 0-2 1-2 1, Fitzpatrick 0-1 0-0 0, Ridley 4-7 0-0 10, Keilty 0-3 2-2 2, S.Smith 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 17-53 9-12 47. Halftime-Quinnipiac, 27-26. 3-point goals-UMBC 8-23 (Seamon 1-1, J. Brown 2-5, Goncharova 2-5, Catalanotto 1-5, S. Johnson 2-7); Q 4-17 (Ridley 2-3, Esidore 2-8, Keilty 0-2, Cassidy 0-4). Fouled out-Fitzpatrick. Rebounds-UMBC 34 (Seamon 9); Q 30 (Kelly 9). Assists-UMBC 13 (J. Brown 7); Q 8 (Kelly 3). A-N/A.