The Fairfield women’s basketball team never trailed in their home opener on Tuesday night, leading from start to finish and defeating Brown University 49-34 at Alumni Hall.
The stifling Stags defense had the Bears in check all night, as Brown did not score at all until more than three minutes into the game. That defense helped Fairfield jump out to an early 22-8 lead at the midway point of the first half.
The Bears’ offense could not adjust to Fairfield’s defense, and went on another scoreless drought, this one a five-minute drought that allowed the Stags to go into halftime with a sizeable 33-19 lead, following a Brittany MacFarlane ’13 basket with 24 seconds remaining in the half.
“I thought in the first half we got off to a great start. I thought our offensive spacing was good and I thought we had a lot of balance,” said Head Coach Joe Frager. “Defensively, we knew they had a lot of good three-point shooters that were a few tough matchups for us … They’re a good offensive rebounding team, that was the other part of it, and I think we out-rebounded them by 23 boards, so I was happy with that.”
In the second half, the Stags extended their lead by virtue of a 10-2 run over the first eight minutes. The defense held the Bears to only six points over the first 14 minutes of the half, allowing Fairfield to take their largest lead of the game at 47-25 with just over four minutes left. Brown did go on a 9-2 run at the end, but Fairfield was able to hang on for the comfortable 15-point victory.
Coach Frager said he was happy with the team’s performance, particularly on defense. “In order for us to be successful, we have to defend. It’s just the makeup of our team,” said Frager. “We’re not going to be a high, high scoring team, so we’ve got to hold teams down … It’s impossible to play error-free, but we need to play as close to it as we possibly can, in order to be successful.”
Junior Katie Cizynski led all scorers with 14 points, and recorded her third career double-double by pairing that with 13 boards. “I thought it was a good first home game,” said Cizynski. “… We knew we had a size advantage inside, so [we we’re] attacking at it instead of fading away.”
“If we run our [plays], it works. We definitely need to be a little stronger with the ball and finish things out, and when we have a lead, keep building that lead.”
Senior Katelyn Linney was equally pleased with their play on both sides. “I think we exploited some of their weak spots … I think we could finish a little stronger, we let them bully us a little, but that’s something we can work on. We’re still growing,” said Linney. “I think it was a good first win.”
“[Brown] did pressure us a little bit more in the second half, and tryied to push us out, so we couldn’t run our offense as well. We just have to work through that. Be more poised,” said Linney.
While the outcome is different from the Stags’ game against Florida last Friday afternoon, the manner in which they played was similar. On Friday, Fairfield played good defense for the first 30 minutes of the game, holding Florida to under 50 points, only to slip up in the last 10 minutes and get blown out by a very talented Gators team by the final score of 71-49.
The large margin of victory allowed some players to see significant minutes for the first time this season. Junior college transfer Casey Grace played eight minutes and scored her first points in Division I, while Lizzy Ball ’16 saw the court for the first time this season, playing six minutes total. Freshmen Kristin Schatzlein and Christa Scognamiglio both saw playing time as well.
The Stags next head to Butler for a game this Saturday, before returning home to play St. Bonventure on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall.