The Fairfield University women’s basketball team (8-2) played Niagara University (5-7) on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Niagara, and it was another great win for the Stags. Fairfield remains the third seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, while Niagara is the seventh. This is Fairfield’s first time playing Niagara during the 2019-2020 campaign, and both teams have just come off of playing Marist College, the second seed in the MAAC. While Fairfield was still high off of their 52-48 win against Marist, Niagara had just lost to the Red Foxes, 94-67. The Stags were running this game since it began, and they won with a final score of 77-65.
Starters included Sam Kramer ‘20, Katie Armstrong ‘20, Callie Cavanaugh ‘21, Lou Lopez-Senechal ‘22 and Rachel Hakes ‘22. These are Coach Frager’s typical starters, and we very rarely see the premier lineup change. Niagara won the tip-off but the game stopped after just two seconds to deal with a shot clock issue. When it started back up again, Niagara quickly scored and immediately started pressing. Cavanaugh got things going for the Stags and put 2 points on the board. Fairfield has been playing a few different defenses, changing between zone defense when they score and man-to-man when they miss. Kramer had a great steal, the first of three for Fairfield during the game. Armstrong hit her first three pointer; she later his three more and went 100% for three-pointers. She eventually totaled 24 points for the Stags, leading the team for the night. Lopez-Senechal also hit a three-pointer right after Armstrong; she later hit four more. Lopez-Senechal is in the top 15 shooters in the MAAC. Kendra Landy, graduate student, came into the game and was immediately hit with a lot of pressure by Niagara while bringing the ball up the court. Lopez-Senechal had a killer block down low, her only one of the game, Armstrong was the only other player with a block. The first quarter ended with a score of 25-14, with Fairfield in the lead.
Cavanaugh again was the first to score for the Stags. She ended up totaling 10 points this game. A charge was called on Niagara after a player elbowed Lopez-Senechal. On two back-to-back occasions, Fairfield couldn’t complete a pass. Niagara ended up totaling seven steals throughout the game. Hakes hit a jumper with only one second left on the shot clock. At this point in the game, Fairfield was shooting around 60%. Landy had a fantastic save to keep the ball in play- she toed the line before she passed to Kramer, who kicked it out to Lopez-Senechal. Landy attempted another three-pointer, missed, but Armstrong was right there with the rebound. Armstrong then took the ball to the basket for another two points, once again with, only one second left on the shot clock. Fairfield ended the game with a whopping 36 rebounds, while Niagara only had 24. Eden Nibbelink ’21 saw the court and hit a three-pointer right off the bat. Halftime commenced with Fairfield ahead, 42-22.
Niagara came out hot this quarter. They evidently had a new energy to them and were able to rattle the Stags. This quarter is when they got most of those seven steals, and their shots finally started hitting. They ended up scoring 26 points this quarter alone, chipping away at that 20 point lead which Fairfield held over them. Fairfield tried to match the energy by pressing Niagara, but Niagara was tougher. At one point they had three players on Landy, and they were able to steal the ball and take it straight to the hoop. By the end of the third, Fairfield was still in the lead 55-48.
The fourth quarter started off poorly for the Stags, as Niagara had yet another steal to kick things off. Without hesitation, the Stags started scoring again and their confidence level came back up. Lopez-Senechal and Armstrong were big players this quarter, staying strong with their three-pointers and free throws. Hakes and Kramer carried out a great breakaway play towards the end of the game. One of Kramer’s seven total assists put her past 250 career assists. The game came to a close with a final score of 77-65.
On Saturday, Feb. 8, the Stags’ two-game hot-streak was broken by the Canisius College Griffins (3-18, 2-10 MAAC) after a disappointing 70-63 loss decided late in the second quarter when the Griffins claimed a lead which would belong to them for the rest of the game. The Stags will take the court in West Long Branch, NJ against Monmouth University (6-16, 3-10 MAAC) on Thursday, Feb. 13.