One game after dropping 64-55 to defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Champions, the Quinnipiac University Bobcats, the Fairfield women’s basketball team looked to rebound as they hosted MAAC foe Canisius on Sunday, Jan. 24 in the friendly confines of Webster Bank Arena. After a slow start to the game by the Golden Griffins, Canisius found its way to battle back. But, it wasn’t enough as the Stags held off the opponent for a 52-48 win.

Coming into the game, both teams held an identical record of 8-10 overall and 3-6 in MAAC play; a win would give each team the momentum needed as they head to the latter part of the season. When the game started, you could tell it was going to be a special day. Just two minutes into the game, Kristin Schatzlein ’16 knocked down a three-pointer after freeing herself with a crossover.

This wasn’t just any three, it was her 193rd-career three, which is good for fourth all-time in Fairfield history. The field goal pushed Schatzlein’s career total to 1,001 points, as she becomes the 28th Stag all-time to reach the 1,000 point club. When asked about this achievement Schatzlein said, “Obviously it’s a big accomplishment, but I was just glad to get it over with and just focus on the win.”

The Stags jumped out to an early lead, finishing the first quarter up 20-11 as the Stags knocked down early three-pointers, two coming off the hands of Schatzlein who went on to lead all scorers with 14 points.

Starting point guard Lizzy Ball ’16 was forced to sit out the majority of the first half, only playing a total of three minutes due to early foul trouble. But the Stags had a trick up their sleeve as they called upon Kendra Landy ‘19 off the bench. Landy provided huge minutes off the bench and provided a couple of dimes.

“That was huge. That was huge because Lizzy really has been our catalyst and our floor general. For her to get those two quick ones, Kendra came in and she stabilized things. She did a good job. We actually went on a little bit of a run when Kendra was in the game there in the first quarter. So, in order to get us to halftime in the shape that we were, that was big,” said head coach Joe Frager on Landy’s play.

Fairfield finished the half with a 31-22 lead and heading into halftime, the Stag’s defense held the Golden Griffins to under 40 percent from the field. Fairfield used its defense and turned it into offense as they forced Canisius to nine turnovers, taking advantage to connect for 10 points off turnovers.

“I thought we played well. We stuck to the scouting report pretty tightly in the first half. I think we were locked in, did a lot of good things. I think in the second half, it drifted a little bit and that’s something we’re still trying to work on as a team being able to put it together for four quarters,” said Frager about his team’s performance in the first half.

Starting the second half up by nine, the Stags looked to increase their lead, but Canisius answered back. Fairfield’s offense slowed down as they struggled to score the ball, and Canisius went on to outscore the Stags 15-7 in the third quarter. “Our defense was pretty bad in the third quarter, so we had to get that up and when we get our defensive intensity up we’re able to transfer it to the offense,” said Schatzlein.

“All we talked about at halftime was coming out strong and trying to jump on them early, trying to take that nine-point lead and push it up a little bit, but they came out and made some shots,” said Frager of Canisius’ comeback. The Stags then held just a slim 38-37 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

After trailing for the majority of the game, Canisius went on to take a 43-42 lead at the 4:40 mark following a three-point shot by Saliah Serrette. Now trailing, the Stags looked to their defense to win the game. “He was telling us to stay calm, he just wanted us to get stops on defense and convert it into offense,” said Schatzlein of the words of encouragement from coach Frager.

Following a timeout, the ball fell into the hands of Casey Smith ’17 who drove to the basket for a contested layup and the foul. Smith missed the foul shot, but Fairfield regained the lead 44-43. “I like what we did on the offensive end. We were really efficient, we had to call a timeout when they took a lead on us, and we came out of that timeout and we drew something up, and Smitty executed very well and made a big shot for us,” said Frager of the team’s execution.

The nail in the coffin came when Ball was left open behind the three-point arc and connected to push Fairfield’s lead to six, with a minute and a half remaining. “I thought Lizzy’s three was huge, that pushed the lead up that gave us that little bit of cushion to be able to survive the late run that they did,” said Frager of Ball’s clutch shot.

The Stags went on to close out the game with a 52-48 win. Junior Kelsey Carey and Smith each added 10 and 13 points respectively while getting a number of rebounds. Fairfield looks to ride the momentum of this win for their next game: “Our goal is to keep progressing, to try to be the best team that we could be to try to maximize our potential by the end of the year,” said Frager. Fairfield will host Rider University on Thursday, Jan. 28 at Alumni Hall.

 

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