The Fairfield women’s basketball team won their fifth straight game on Saturday, defeating St. Francis, N.Y. 52-43 at Alumni Hall. Senior Katelyn Linney was the leading scorer with 14 points, and with the win the team improves to 5-2 on the year.
The game got off to a slow start offensively for Fairfield, but Joe Frager’s signature stalwart defense was on show once again, as the Stags limited St. Francis, N.Y. to just one basket over the first nine minutes, and took the early 11-2 lead.
However, what little offense was coming for the Stags stopped with a little over 11 minutes to go in the half. The lead slowly dissolved, and with less than four minutes until halftime, the Stags found themselves in a 16-11 hole. Fairfield did close the gap before halftime, went into the locker room trailing 22-20.
Fairfield struggled shooting the ball in the first half, shooting just 29 percent from the floor, including a 4-16 mark from three point range.
“We’re usually not like that,” said Linney, who finished the game shooting 5-15 overall and connecting on four of her 13 three point attempts, “I think that got us a little flustered in the beginning, and that translated onto the defensive end, as we weren’t getting the stops that we needed to.”
“I was worried that we would come out the way that we did,” said Head Coach Joe Frager. “I thought that was a very poor 20 minutes in the first half, offensively and defensively. In the beginning of the game, defensively I thought we did a good job, but then when we struggled so much on the offensive end, [that] we let it impact what we did on defense … I think we lost our poise a little bit in the first half, because we got a little bit rattled when we missed open shots, then we started to rush our shots.”
A layup two minutes into the second half by Felicia DaCruz ’15 tied the game at 26, a lead that Fairfield would hold onto for most of the second half, as they would only trail once more in the game when St. Francis, N.Y.’s Leah Fechko hit two free throws to give the Terriers the temporary 34-33 lead with 12 and a half minutes to go.
The Stags would respond with a 10-1 run of their own, to eventually take an eight point lead with under six minutes remaining. St. Francis, N.Y. would get no closer than five points down before the Stags hit their free throws down the stretch, and eventually pull away for the nine point victory.
“We gutted it out, we played a better second half … It was about taking a deep breath—we were playing like our hair was on fire in the first half,” said Frager.
“I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m displeased with this game, because it’s a win, and we still have a lot of growth as a basketball team that we need to make,” Frager continued.
Frager said that there is a worry being a three point shooting team, as cold stretches and poor shot selection could really hurt the team. “There’s a fine line between relying on it too much where you’re just jacking them up, which is what we did at stretches … I think we took too many three’s, and there were rushed three’s at times.”
The entire starting backcourt for the Stags did not have a good shooting night. Altogether, Alexys Vazquez ’14, DaCruz, and Linney shot just 9-31 and 7-26 from three point range.
“We played a little sloppy, it wasn’t our best game,” said Linney. “So we’ll learn from this game, we got a tough week coming up. We learned we were able to get through a tough time when we were not playing well.”
Vazquez was the only other player for the Stags to finish in double digits with 11 points for the game. Katie Cizynski ’14 and Brittany Obi-Tabot played well on the post, scoring nine and six points, respectively, while Cizynski grabbed a team high 10 rebounds. Brittany MacFarlane ’13, Laura Vetra ’13, and DaCruz all finished with four points apiece as well.
“As long as we learn from this and grow from this, then it was a good thing,” said Frager. “But if we don’t learn our lesson, then this is for naught.”
When asked what he wanted to take from this game, Frager strained, saying “A win, and a day off tomorrow. Those are the positives.”
Fairfield takes on Lehigh on Thursday on the road, and then the Stags continue their road trip when they head out to take on nationally ranked Iowa State on December 9. Fairfield’s next home game is not until December 22 against Lasalle at 2 p.m. at Alumni Hall.