The women’s basketball game against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foe the Niagara Purple Eagles this past Sunday, Jan. 29 had a special meaning behind it. Sunday afternoon’s matchup was tabbed as the Alzheimer’s Awareness Game, with all donations going toward the nationwide “We Back Pat” initiative, in remembrance of the late legendary coach of the Tennessee Volunteers Pat Summitt.
For Stags head coach Joe Frager, the game was significant for him personally. “I know it [Alzheimer’s] affected my Dad in his 80s so it really was a special day for me. Hopefully we are working to get a cure for this because it really is an insidious disease that I would like to see go away in my lifetime.”
After hearing their head coach talk in the pregame about each team member playing for those people who have struggled with the disease, the Stags went out and bested Niagara 66-63 at George Bisacca Court in Alumni Hall.
While Kelsey Carey ’17 lead the charge with 20 points in the game, it was really Kristine Miller ’17 and Khadidiatou Diouf ’18 who carried the Stags in the first half. With Carey out minutes into the first quarter due to early foul trouble, Miller and Diouf contributed big baskets for the Stags to keep them down by two as Fairfield trailed 31-29 going into halftime.
Fairfield dominated the paint not just in the first half but in the entire game, scoring 34 of their 66 points down low. Miller’s biggest play of the game came with four seconds left when she blocked a corner 3-point attempt to seal the victory for the Stags.
The senior finished the game with 10 points on 4-4 shooting while Diouf ended with six points on 3-5 shooting. Other key contributors for the Stags included seniors Samantha Cooper and Casey Smith who had 13 and nine points, respectively.
Although Frager did not agree that this contest itself was a big win for his team, he wanted to place focus on his squad’s MAAC record at the end of the season, especially with some competitive games coming up in the schedule.
“We are 7-5 right now in conference and we are right in the thick of things. Right now it is about positioning for the MAAC tournament,” said Frager of what the team needs to do in the coming days. “I think what we need to do better, is when we get a lead, we need to make better decisions and take care of the ball better.”
The Stags will look to carry the momentum garnered from Sunday’s win into their matchup with in-state rival and MAAC leading Quinnipiac Bobcats on Thursday, Feb. 2 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.