Fairfield women’s basketball wrote a new chapter in the story of their dominant season last week, going on the road to take down Rider and Iona en route to their program record 17th win in a row.  

The victories bring the Stags’ total record on the season to 19-1, still good for the second-best winning percentage in the country behind national number one South Carolina.

“It means a lot for our program and our university,” head coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis said of the record-setting win streak. “I knew this could be a really special place for women’s basketball… I’m really proud of each of our women both individually and collectively for how they continue to challenge each other to get better and not be satisfied.”

To get to the magic number 17, however, the Stags first needed to reach 16. Beginning their week on Thursday night at Rider, the team got off to an uncharacteristically slow start in the first quarter, leading by just one point after an opening frame of wobbly shooting and some minor defensive struggles. 

Things turned around quickly in the second quarter, as the defensive intensity ramped up and the offense found its footing, thanks in large part to guard Janelle Brown ‘24 who scored or assisted on five straight baskets to help the Stags open up a 35-23 halftime lead.

“[Rider] runs a good amount of set plays and different actions on offense, so we weren’t playing with the defensive intensity we normally have and we weren’t pressuring the ball as much as we should have been,” said road runner Lauren Beach ‘25. “When we really locked in on defense, that’s when we were able to turn the game around.”

That level of play persisted through the rest of the contest, as the Stags limited the Broncs to just 21 second-half points and finished the game scoring 23 of their own points off of Rider turnovers.

Brown led the final tally for Fairfield with 17 points, followed by road runner Emina Selimovic ‘25 with 15.

In what has become a trademark of the Stags’ season, 11 different players saw minutes in the game, with eight getting into the scoring column, all culminating in a 67-44 win.

“We knew we were going to play at a very fast pace this year, and our defensive style is pretty demanding, so it’s hard to do that for 40 minutes a game,” Thibault-DuDonis said. “We have really good players in our program that we want to get on the court, and our pace allows us to keep that up.”

Then, the pursuit of history brought the Stags to New Rochelle, New York for a battle with Iona University on Saturday afternoon. Determined to avoid another slow start, the Stags blitzed the Gaels right from the opening tip and took a commanding 23-2 first-quarter lead that was essentially never in doubt for the remainder of the game. 

Not resting on their laurels however, the Stags continued to play hard and keep up the pressure well into the second half, with all twelve active players seeing the court and ten contributing to the scoring effort.

“I love this team because they respond to any challenge myself or our coaching staff throws at them,” Thibault-DuDonis said. “We were not happy with our start against Rider, so I know our team was ready, and particularly I give credit to our captains for making sure we were ready, to start this game off in a better way.”

“That’s just a testament to our team being bought in and being able to be challenged regardless of the success we’ve had so far,” she continued, “and not being satisfied with what we’ve done and continuing to find ways to get better.”

Brown once again spearheaded the scoring effort with 15 points, supplemented by 10 from Selimovic and 12 from road runner Meghan Andersen ‘27, leading to a convincing 85-49 victory. 

Despite their incredible success, the team understands the challenge ahead of them to maintain their historic winning streak, as they enter the final month of the regular season schedule with an extra target on their backs for opposing teams.

“You don’t win 17 in a row without winning one 17 times,” Thibault-DuDonis said, “so we have to show up every single day… people scout you better, and they decide what they’re going to take away from you, and we know the daily effort that’s taken.”

Ultimately, the Stags will rely on the same foundational ideas that have gotten them to this point in order to bring home a highly coveted conference championship.

“Our biggest principle is playing selfless basketball,” Beach said. “I think the way that we play for each other and work hard for each other is huge for us, and that’s really made the difference this season.”

The Stags will return home to Leo D. Mahoney Arena to look for their 18th straight win on Thursday against Marist. Tip-off is at 11 a.m.  

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