The Fairfield University women’s basketball team played Rider University (14-2) this past Thursday, Feb. 27. Rider is currently the second seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, with Fairfield (10-6) right behind them as number three. You could feel Fairfield’s energy in the room before the clock even started running. While their energy was there the whole game, Rider played a bit more aggressively and beat the Stags, 68-60.
We saw the typical starting lineup: Sam Kramer ‘20, Katie Armstrong ‘20, Callie Cavanaugh ‘21, Lou Lopez-Senechal ‘22 and Rachel Hakes ‘22. Fairfield won the tip off and Hakes immediately sent the ball to Lopez-Senechal, who was under the basket, but Rider tipped it away. Rider scored the first few points, which may have thrown Fairfield off a bit. Fans really saw Rider dominate the first quarter. Armstrong had a rebound that was knocked out of bounds on Rider. Kramer nabbed a rebound as well. Both teams had a high number of rebounds: Fairfield with 34 and Rider with 39. The first foul for Fairfield was on Hakes which was called when she tried to stay on top of Rider down low.
Coach Frager called a timeout out of frustration at 6:40, as Rider scored eight points and Fairfield hadn’t hit a single shot yet. The first turnover went to Fairfield with a travel called on Cavanaugh. Both teams had 12 turnovers throughout the 40 minutes. Kramer had an exciting block which would be her only block of the night, and later on we saw Armstrong with the only other block for Fairfield. Rider had three blocks throughout the game. The Broncs played some very intense defense, putting lots of pressure on Fairfield. Kramer drove down low for Fairfield to score their first points. Kramer has always done a fantastic job of seeing the court and knowing exactly how to get to the basket. Immediately after Kramer’s basket, Fairfield had great ball movement to land Cavanaugh with a jumper. Cavanaugh played formidable defense to stop a shot on Rider, but Rider grabbed the rebound and put it right back up for two. Rider was outplaying Fairfield in this quarter, producing more power. Andrea Hernangomez ’22, who is back from an injury, had a powerful rebound that took her to the ground with a defensive foul on Rider. Armstrong then had a rebound and put up her first three-pointer of the game. Armstrong ended up attempting seven three-pointers, making three of them. Fairfield shot 33.3 percent for three-pointers, with Rider shooting a strong 50 percent. The first quarter ended with a score of 7-22, in Rider’s favor.
The second quarter was a huge one for the Stags. Hernangomez tipped a rebound over to graduate student Kendra Landy to reset. Hernangomez then had an assist to Lopez-Senechal for a three-pointer. Lopez-Senechal led the Stags in points this game, with 26 points by the end. Lopez-Senechal immediately hit another three-pointer from the exact same spot on the court. Then, Armstrong posted another three-pointer. The crowd was uncontrollable in Alumni Hall. Landy drove it down low for two, and Armstrong followed up with another three-pointer, fending off a lot of pressure from the visiting team. Lopez-Senechal grabbed a rebound and was fouled on a three-pointer attempt. She made all three of her free-throws. About halfway through this quarter, Landy started pressing Rider. Fairfield really stepped up their defense this quarter, preventing Rider from scoring more than 11 points. Kramer had an assist to Armstrong for two points and led the Stags with six of their 15 assists. Rider only had 11total assists. This was a standout quarter for Fairfield, as they were able to close the huge point gap from the first quarter. Rider still edged Fairfield 33-32 at the half.
Fairfield came in hot again, starting out with rebounds by Kramer and Cavanaugh. Armstrong had a rousing steal that led to a rebound by Cavanaugh and two points for Kramer. Fairfield had five steals throughout the game, with three of them being by Landy, who always looks for those opportunities. Rider registered four steals. Throughout this quarter there was a lot of back-and-forth in regards to which team was taking the lead. When Kramer hit two to take the lead, 44-43, Rider fired right back with a jumper to steal it back. When Lopez-Senechal hit a jumper, Rider would drive down low to match them. The quarter ended at 46-47, Rider still in the lead.
The final quarter had an exciting start. Rider was really strong with their defense and almost ran the shot clock on Fairfield, but Landy hit a three-pointer right at the buzzer and fans went nuts over it. Hernangomez drove low for two and then had a defensive rebound following. She led the Stags with nine of their 34 rebounds: to say she’s a powerful player is an understatement. She almost had a turnover, but dove hard to save it and kick it out to Kramer. Landy had another one of her three steals, leading to a Rider foul on Cavanaugh, who hit both of her free throws. Rider then had another one of their 12 turnovers, clearly feeling the heat from Fairfield. Hernangomez had back-to-back rebounds, showcasing her height and strength once again. With about two minutes left in the game, we saw each team purposely fouling to try and regain possession of the ball. While it was a praiseworthy effort on Fairfield’s part, Rider was able to sneak out the win, 68-60. While they didn’t win, the Stags showcased their ability to remain calm under pressure, and their ability to rework themselves to become a better match for the opposing team.
The Stags were unable to push past the Manhattan College Jaspers (14-14, 11-8 MAAC) on Saturday, Feb. 29 where they lost, 51-38 in Riverdale, NY. Their final game on George Bisacca Court at Alumni Hall is scheduled for Saturday, March 7 against the Niagara University Purple Eagles (9-18, 7-11 MAAC).
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