Sunday, Feb. 14 wasn’t just Valentine’s Day, but also Senior Day, marking the final home game at Alumni Hall for the Fairfield women’s Basketball team. The Fairfield Stags hosted the Monmouth Hawks in front of a full house at Alumni Hall.

Fairfield’s offense was on full display as they took advantage of a strong start that saw them lead as much as 21, to pick up the 80-70 victory. “It’s huge. You always want to try to send your seniors out with a final home game with a win. Senior Day brings a lot of different emotions and you just hope they can keep that focus and I thought for the most part we did,” said Head Coach Joe Frager about the Senior Day win.

Fairfield jumped out to an early lead as they started the game on a 9-2 run, all points coming off assists. When asked about his team’s quick start to the game, Frager said, “We were ready to play. Monmouth’s style of play forces a higher possession kind of game and we were fortunate that we knocked some shots.” Monmouth’s slow start would not last long as they battled back to cut the deficit by the end of the first quarter as Fairfield held a slim 20-17 lead.

The start of the second quarter saw Kelsey Carey ’17 pick up the scoring load after just converting on one shot in the first quarter. Carey scored six of Fairfield’s first nine points in the second quarter as she would finish with a total of 10 points by halftime.

With less than four minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Stags held a 35-31 lead. Fairfield would go on a 10-1 run to increase their lead to 13 by the end of the quarter to give them the 45-32 advantage. By the end of the first half, Casey Smith ’17 led all scorers with a total of 13 points.

“I thought we stepped it up there in the second quarter and I was really happy with our play in the final five minutes of the second quarter at both ends of the floor. We got some key stops and we were able to convert those into points so that took a really tight three point game at the end of the first quarter to being up by 13 at the halftime,” said Frager about his team’s performance in the second quarter.

The third quarter of the game saw the Stags’ offense explode to get a huge 21 point lead with just two minutes remaining in the quarter, leaving Monmouth struggling to stop Fairfield’s balanced offense. “We just had to come out as strong as we’ve been coming out. We made it an emphasis in these past five or six games to come out strong in the third quarter. Our focus on that helped us pull away in the second half,” said Carey about the way her team played in the third quarter.

By the end of the third quarter of play Fairfield had a 62-44 lead due in large part to nine assists from Lizzy Ball ’16, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leader in assists.

“She’s just doing a fantastic job. They pressed us full court the whole game. She gets nine assists and has one turnover; that says a lot. She’s doing a great job of managing the offense, making good decisions with the basketball and I think that goes throughout our team,” said Frager of Ball.

Although the Stags held a huge advantage, it did not prevent Monmouth from playing as they battled to get back in the game. The Hawks would cut the lead down to 11 with just over four minutes remaining in the game. But, Fairfield’s Kristine Miller ’17 would come off the bench to provide a much needed boost. After having just five points through three quarters of play, the fourth quarter saw Miller score 10 points in the final four minutes of the game to finish the game with 15 and give Fairfield the 80-70 win.

The win over Monmouth gave Fairfield its seventh consecutive victory. When asked about the team’s reaction to the run, Carey stated, “We’re really excited. Things weren’t going our way in the beginning of the season but now we’re finally winning and playing the way we want to play.” Frager believes his team just needs “to be mentally tough, play good team defense and take care of the basketball,” as they start a four-game road trip where they will face Siena, Marist, Iona and Quinnipiac.

 

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