Peter Caty/The Mirror

Not many people showed up for the quarterfinals of the Fairfield University Women’s Basketball game.  Not even the team’s offenses.

Fairfield’s was just a little worse than their opponents’ as they were eliminated from the 2011 Spark Energy MAAC Championship in a 36-33 defeat against the #4 Siena Saints.

Defense has been the theme all season long for this squad; just last month they were the best defensive unit in the nation.  When they needed a stop, most of the time they got it, but this time they needed a basket and they couldn’t get it.

“I thought in the beginning of the game we were very tight,” Coach Joe Frager said.  “We weren’t shooting the ball very well, we weren’t even shooting the ball well in shoot around today.”

The Stags shot only 22 percent in the first half, but still went into the locker room leading the Saints 15-7.

Even though Fairfield was leading, the fact that they held the Saints to single digits and had their best player, Serena Moore, in foul trouble; only being up by eight could have cost the Stags the game according to Frager.

“I thought that determined the outcome of the game,” he said. “Everyone concentrates on one or two shots or plays at the end of the game… that should have been about a 25-7 lead, and then it’s a completely different situation.”

The Stags had arguably their best defensive effort of the season as they held the Saints to only 3-25 shooting and limited the conference’s leading scorer to only 2.

“We did about as good of a job as you can against those guys,” Frager said.

The second half was a very different story for the Stags.  Siena’s baskets started to fall and the inexperienced Fairfield squad started to falter as Siena crept back into the game after a three point basket by Missey Ramsey, making it a one point game.

Fairfield had a chance to increase their slim lead when the usually solid Desiree Pina ’12 toed the line for a one and one opportunity.  But the nearly 80 percent free throw shooter missed the front end and Siena got the ball back.

The Saints would grab the lead for the first time in nearly 34 minutes on a pair of free throws from Serena Moore with only 30 seconds remaining to take a 1-point lead.

The Stags still had a chance, but juniorTaryn Johnson’s fade away jumper fell short and the Saints escaped with the win.

It was the lowest scoring game in MAAC history,  and the defensive success made it even harder for Pina.

“Words probably can’t explain how frustrating it is,” she said. “I honestly feel like we had the game and it just slipped right out of our hands.  When you’re in that situation it’s very, very frustrating – especially when you had the lead the whole game.”

Coach Joe Frager was also upset after the near win.

“It’s very frustrating, because I thought the kids did a tremendous, tremendous job preparing for this game,” he said. “The focus was there, the desire was there… they really wanted this.  It’s a tough pill to swallow and the fact that you can hold them down defensively like that, it really hurts.”

The Women’s Basketball team ends the season on a five game losing streak for the first time in their program history.  This stretch will overshadow all their successes: finishing top 5 in the nation in defensive, nearly beating # 18 Marist, and the emergence of Taryn Johnson.

Even though they held Siena to 36 points and only 23 percent shooting, it just wasn’t enough.

At least in 2011, defense didn’t win a championship.

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