A celebratory roar erupted from the Leo D. Mahoney Arena crowd last Saturday as guard Janelle Brown ‘24 galloped around the floor, a new trophy held high in her hands.

Fairfield women’s basketball picked up yet another pair of victories last week, extending their win streak to 22 games and clinching the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season title.

The new hardware is just the latest achievement in a long line of accolades the Stags have accrued this season, including the record-setting win streak and the program’s first ever votes received in the Associated Press’s national poll. 

It took wins over the two closest competitors in the MAAC standings for the Stags to officially claim the trophy, beginning with a road test at Siena on Thursday night.

Much like their recent contests against Mount St. Mary’s and Saint Peter’s, the Stags were pushed to their limits against the Saints, trailing by as many as nine points in the second quarter. A three-pointer from road runner Meghan Andersen ‘27 and a final minute layup from guard Kaety L’Amoreaux ‘27 helped cap a run that cut the deficit to one point, but it was still the second straight game trailing at halftime for the Stags, an unfamiliar spot for them to be in this season.

“I think we’re a very disciplined team,” L’Amoreaux said. “Our biggest thing is, it might take two minutes, it might take 30 minutes, and it might take the full 40… so I think our whole team was able to stay together, stay connected, and know that we were gonna get the job done in the end.”

The mental fortitude was evident, as Andersen buried two more threes to start the third quarter and give the Stags a five point lead. Siena would answer back though, and after several lead changes throughout the frame, it was Andersen who spearheaded yet another run that culminated in a 56-50 advantage to begin the fourth quarter.

Still, the Saints would not go away quietly, scoring baskets on four straight possessions inside the final four minutes. As they have all year, however, the Stags found a way to respond, as Brown and road runner Emina Selimovic ‘25 joined L’Amoreaux in connecting on key baskets down the stretch to ice a hard-fought 71-67 win. 

“I think what’s different about this team is that nobody gives up,” said guard Kendall McGruder ‘25, who missed the game against Siena with an injury. “Everybody shows grit, and the fact that we can come together and get these dubs shows a lot about who the team is.”

Brown and Andersen paced the Stags with 19 points each, followed by L’Amoreaux with 14. Brown also had five steals on the night, leading a defense that forced 16 Siena turnovers.

The stage was then set for a return home to Mahoney Arena on Saturday afternoon, where the Stags hosted the second-place Niagara Purple Eagles. And with a chance to clinch the regular season conference title on the line, it was a prime opportunity for the team to return to the dominant form they’ve displayed for much of the season thus far.

“We wanted to have a statement game, where we’re like, ‘we’re done with the tight games, this is who we are,’” L’Amoreaux said. “Especially going into the tail end of the season and the MAAC tournament, I think we wanted to get back to playing the way we know we can.”

The Stags made their intentions clear right from the opening tip, jumping out to an 8-0 lead in just over a minute of action thanks to some forced turnovers and up tempo offense.

The Purple Eagles did their best to cut into the lead, using a late first-quarter flurry to trail by just five heading into the second stanza. From that point on though, Mahoney Arena was treated to a stunningly one-sided affair.

The Stags outscored Niagara 74-49 through the rest of the game. After pouring in a career-high 30 points when the two teams met in January, Andersen gave an encore performance to the tune of 26 points and nine rebounds en route to her tenth MAAC Rookie of the Week award. 

Perhaps most impressive was the Stags’ ability to overcome Niagara’s defensive pressure. The Purple Eagles lead the country in forced turnovers per game, and while they were able to come away with 23 on Saturday, the Stags responded with 24 assists on their own side, matching their team-high total this season. 

“Niagara does a really good job of speeding teams up,” said McGruder, who along with L’Amoreaux, tied her career best with six assists in her return to the floor. “But I think that we showed great poise in finding our open teammates, and that really helped us seal the game.”

Supplementing Andersen’s huge game was a 15 point outing from Brown, as well as 14 point afternoons for L’Amoreaux and Selimovic.

McGruder and guard Izabela Nicoletti-Leite ‘24 also got into double figures, with 11 and 10 points respectively. In the end, the final tally of 95-65 served as a triumphant culmination of the Stags’ sprint to the regular season conference title.

“[Winning the MAAC] means a lot, because that’s what we’ve been working for this season,” L’Amoreaux said. “It’s important we don’t lose sight of how significant that is, but we know the job isn’t done. Winning the regular season title is awesome, but it’s not the end goal.”

That honor is reserved for a MAAC Tournament Championship and a bid to March Madness, which is no guarantee despite the tremendous year the Stags have had so far, and the team knows the importance of staying locked in through their final four games in order to check off those boxes.

“It’s just gonna take consistency, on and off the court,” McGruder said. “When we live up to our Stag standards every single day, and play for one another and just enjoy being in each other’s presence, that will help us through the tournament.”

The Stags have four more games left before they get there, with the first coming this Thursday at Mahoney Arena against in-state rival Quinnipiac. Opening tip is at 7 P.M. 

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