On Play4Kay night at Alumni Hall on Thursday, Feb. 16 the Stags dropped a back-and-forth contest to the Marist Foxes, 68-62. On a night where raising money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund was the primary goal, Fairfield could not earn a win on the hardwood and failed to pick up their sixth straight win in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.

From the outset, it looked as though the Stags’ game plan to thwart their MAAC foe on offense was working to perfection. The red and white held the Red Foxes to only 11 points in the first frame to end the first quarter holding a 16-11 advantage. With nine points from Kelsey Carey ‘17 and five points from Samantha Cooper ‘18, Fairfield was confident as they were able to get their stars going early in the game.

But once the second quarter commenced and the ball was inbounded, the last 10 minutes of the half belonged completely to Marist. The squad from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. outscored the Stags 23-10 in the frame to take a 34-26 lead into the break. Two buckets from Kendra Landy ‘20 and three free throws from Cooper kept Fairfield afloat in the second quarter, but it was clear that momentum had swung to the visitors going into the locker room.

“For whatever reason, we tried to force it [inside] and jam the ball in there early in the game,” head coach Joe Frager said, referring to the team’s post game. “We struggled to knock down outside shots and we got a little bit panicky, and got out of our rhythm.”

The third quarter saw the Stags keep the ballgame close but fail to really dig into the Marist lead. On two separate occasions in the frame, Fairfield closed the gap to five points or less, but ultimately could not produce the stops and buckets needed to grab the momentum back from the Red Foxes. After 30 minutes played, the Stags entered the final period down 48-41.

For the last 10 minutes, the Stag faithful sat on the edge of their seats hoping to see Fairfield come alive and feed off the home crowd. Yet the incredibly consistent foul shooting from Marist put to bed any dreams of a Fairfield comeback in the game’s final minutes. Whenever the Stags would close the deficit to five or six points, the Empire State foe would seal the deal with a clutch performance from the charity stripe to eventually leave Fairfield with a 68-62 victory.

Carey and Cooper had monster games for the Stags, both stuffing the stat sheet with each garnering a double-double. Carey scored a team-high 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds, while Cooper scored 13 points to complement her 10 boards. What held Fairfield back the entire night was the inability to find open shots for Casey Smith ‘17, the team’s second leading scorer. Smith went 3-17 on the evening and finished with just six total points. For veteran coach Frager, he knows that their overall approach needs to improve if they are going to find continued success in conference play down the stretch.

“There is no real secret that our scoring comes from our 4 and 5,” Frager said. “We knew that every time the ball went in there they were going to get doubled and tripled teamed. We took some ill advised shots and our struggles on offense contributed to some of our mistakes on the defensive end.”

After a 65-55 loss at the hands of MAAC foe Iona on Sunday, Feb. 19 Fairfield will look to bounce back on Thursday, Feb. 23 when they welcome the Canisius Golden Griffins to George Bisacca court for one of their last conference games of the year. The red and white looks to start a new winning streak as February comes to a close and tournament play appears on the horizon.

Seniors Kelsey Carey (left) and Casey Smith (right) were honored before Thursday’s game as they join the elusive 1,000 point club. Alfredo Torres/The Mirror

 

 

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