The Fairfield women’s basketball team continued their impressive start of the season as they defeated the Lafayette Leopards on Sunday.
The team continues to improve and show that they can beat even some tough teams, “I thought it wasn’t an easy game for us,” fourth year head coach Joe Frager said.
It was the team’s third win in their first four games. Getting off to a good start can be beneficial especially for a team that started the year with four freshmen and three sophomores.
The experience of winning early could help propel this young team. Frager said that teaching could happen in wins or losses, but for an inexperienced squad showing them the experience of winning is good.
Out of Frager’s four years, he has won at least three out of his first four games in all but one season. It has been a total team effort so far in the early campaign. The team has enjoyed success from a number of players including sophomore guard Katelyn Linney who is averaging nearly 16.5 points per game.
But the latest win showed the emergence of another player in particular. A performer who can be called one of the most athletic players in the MAAC. A force who must use her offensive skills and rebounding ability in order for the team to succeed. That player is Taryn Johnson.
“I thought Taryn Johnson had a monster game for us,” Frager said. The junior forward recorded her second double-double of the season and led the team in scoring tallying 18 points and corralling 13 boards. The Brockton, Mass. native leads the team in rebounds, blocks, and steals. She not only had a good offensive game but Frager “was impressed by her defense.”
The defensive game played by Johnson and the rest of the team was quite impressive.
Fairfield held Lafayette to only 39 points and have only allowed 47 per game. Frager says that is one of the most important parts of the team. Last year through the first four games, Fairfield had the best defense in the nation.
With Taryn Johnson returning, Frager hopes to stay one of the biggest defensive forces in the MAAC and so far they have already forced 75 turnovers. In order for the team to be successful, they need contributions on the defensive side from their entire team: even the freshmen.
The Stags welcomed four new players on to their roster. In this initial portion of the schedule, most of them have already formed into a role.
Christelle Akon-Akech has become one of the players that have caught other’s eyes because of her impressive ball handling. Akon-Akech gave the Stags “solid minutes” according to Frager talking about the win against Lafayette. The coach also talked about the contributions of Katie Cizynski and Alexys Vazquez. These freshmen add depth to a roster where opposing teams cannot focus on just one player.
Although their record reads 3-1, Frager still thinks that the team hasn’t reached its peak and can improve greatly.
He called the victory at Lafayette “an ugly win [but] in a way that can actually sometimes help the team grow a little bit to go on the road maybe not play your best, get tested a little bit, still kinda gut it out, and get the win.”
He hopes that the strides they have made on defense and rebounding will continue as the season progresses along with contributions from the entire team.
The Stags hope to continue this hot start of the 2010-2011 campaign as they stay on the road and play Villanova on Thursday. Winning on the road could be challenging for any young player and team. They are away from their fans and their home court, but it’s just another challenge that the team will fight as a whole.