The Fairfield University Women’s Basketball team is the second best defensive unit in the nation allowing only 48.4 points per game.
That’s only 0.1 PPG behind West Virginia for the national top spot and nearly an entire point better than #2 UCONN. “It has to be a consistent force,” coach Frager said. “More often than not it has been. The kids have done a tremendous job trying to do what we’ve asked.”
The squad has held nine opponents to 50 points or fewer in their first 16 games and excluding an 89 point struggle against Hofstra, the Stags limit foes to 45.7 points per contest.
However, as enticing as all those defensive statistics sound they have not translated into wins of late.
Fairfield dropped their third straight game on Sunday to fall to 3-3 in MAAC play and 10-6 overall. “It’s really hard to take it in,” Desiree Pina ‘12 said, “especially because it’s our third straight loss. It’s frustrating.”
That record would suggest mediocrity.
While the Stags are lighting up the defensive side of the court, through the last three games, their offense has been dim.
In those contests they are shooting 35 percent from the floor including going 15 for 69 from behind the arc, barely good for a 22 percentage.
“There’s definitely concerns. As much as we’ve struggled scoring it in terms of shooting the ball, I think we’ve turned the ball over an uncharacteristic amount,” Frager said.
“We’re talking about the unforced turnovers where the mistake is simply ours, where we’re either dribbling the ball off our toe, forcing the pass that’s not there. Sometimes when you struggle shooting the ball a little bit you try to start forcing things on offense and I think that’s where we’re at right now.”
The advantage of playing an 18 game schedule is that it affords a team the opportunity to improve during each game. For that reason, this slide might have some benefits for the Stags.
As a young team, the inexperienced players have a chance to get the offense spark needed in close games.
“We have to learn from this. We have to come into the gym on Tuesday and be very positive,” Frager said.
Over the road trip the team saw contributions from freshmen who have not been afforded that opportunity. Alexys Vazquez ‘14 and Katie Cizynski ’14 saw more playing time, with Cizynksi scoring a career high 12 points and grabbing a personal best six rebounds in only 14 minutes, which almost ignited a 12 point comeback on Sunday.
The Stags know if their offense gets that one hot streak, combined with their offensive prowess it can help propel a team to the championship. “In MAAC play there’s not a heck of a lot that separates the teams so there’s not a big margin for error,” Frager said.
They are now in fifth place in the conference with 12 games yet to play.
Last year they were in ninth through 10 games. But they found that magic and found themselves playing for the crown.
This year they hope to find that same magical spark, and Frager saw some of it in the Manhattan game, “I thought the effort to get back in the game when we were down 12 was outstanding. I thought we showed tremendous heart.”
33 percent of the MAAC season is in the books, and with a few breaks and easy layups the Stags could believably be 5-1 or even 6-0.
“If you looked at the schedule ahead of time, you would probably think we’d be anywhere from two to four wins at this point, I think we have a shot to be 5-1 and we put ourselves in that position so it’s a little bit frustrating,” Frager said. “3-3 is certainly not the end of the world.”
“What I noticed about our team is that when we’re down we never give up. You could see that last year when we went on that nine game winning streak, but also we’ve been down a lot of times and we’ve always continued to fight back,” Pina said. “We just need to keep a lot of optimism.”
The Stags will try to get back to their winning ways this weekend as they welcome Canisius and Niagara to campus. The Stags swept these two teams on the road and Frager knows how important these games are, “We need to win our home games,” he said. A couple of wins and going over .500 can really add a sense of confidence to this young team.