The Fairfield women’s basketball team defeated the Maine Black Bears on Sunday 80-59 to win the Brown Bear Classic in Providence, R.I. It is the second tournament that the Stags have won this season, following their win in the Emerald Beach Hotel Islander Classic in November.
Senior Brittany Obi-Tabot averaged 12.5 points over the two games of the tournament, including a season-high 18-point effort in the win over Maine, en route to being named tournament Most Valuable Player. She also averaged 8.5 rebounds, and had two blocks and two steals for the weekend. Junior Felicia DaCruz scored a career high 19 points with five rebounds and four assists to lead the Stags.
The first half was a close affair for the first twelve minutes, with the Black Bears taking a 27-22 with just over eight minutes remaining. Fairfield (5-3) would go on a 15-2 scoring run over the next six and a half minutes, and went into halftime with the 37-32 lead.
Fairfield came out of halftime on a 12-4 run, and after a Maine run made it a seven-point game with 12 minutes remaining, one of DaCruz’s three baskets from beyond the arc gave them a double-digit lead once again, and would gradually extend their lead and put away the Black Bears by 21 points.
“I think Felicia DaCruz has shown tremendous improvement … just her assist to turnover ratio has been outstanding,” said Head Coach Joe Frager.
In the first game of the tournament, the Stags cruised to a 75-46 win over Morgan State on Saturday. Senior Katie Cizynski led Fairfield with a career-high 24 points, shooting 11-15 from the floor. Senior Alexys Vazquez was 4-9 from three-point range, adding twelve points of her own.
“I definitely think Katie Cizynski is a player that you lean on. When you’ve got a post player who can score inside and outside the way that Katie can, it gives versatility to her game,” said Coach Frager. “And I think definitely [Alexys] Vazquez, another one of our seniors, those are two player that we are going to look to lean on. All our seniors for that matter.”
The Stags never trailed in the game, with Cizynski scoring the first basket. The Stags shot 45.5 percent in the first half, and continued their dominance in the second half, pulling away for the nearly 30-point win.
Sophomore Kristin Schatzlein and Kelsey Carey ‘17 scored in double digits, both scoring eleven points, and Carey corralled five rebounds, the most in a game in her still very young college career.
With still one non-conference game to go, a date against Oklahoma at Webster Bank Arena on Dec. 18, Frager likes where his team is at right now.
“We’ve had a pretty challenging schedule, I like where we are,” said Coach Frager. “I think it’s given our younger kids an opportunity to get their feet wet, find out what college basketball is all about. Hopefully it gets us ready for the conference portion of our schedule.”
One thing that Coach Frager has been impressed by so far has been not only the play of the newcomers, but also how well the team has shared the scoring and ball-handling responsibilities.
“We’ve shared the basketball. The ball has moved … we’ve had seven different players score in double figures for us, and that’s important,” said Coach Frager. “I think defensively we can definitely improve. Our ability to contain dribble penetration has got to improve, because we’re not really a very quick team. We have to play very good team defense to accomplish that.”
As for that upcoming game against 20th nationally ranked Oklahoma, Coach Frager called it a “heck of a challenge.”
“They’re an outstanding team. It’s quite rare that you get a team like that to come and play here … but they were heading east and we’re fortunate to get them [at home],” said Frager. “In a game like that, it’s great to be able to test yourself, but what you really have to do is take that type of game one play at a time.
Obviously, every time you lace ‘em up, you want to win. But above all, at the end of that forty minutes with that team, your kids walk off the court saying ‘You know, we played as hard as we possibly could’ve played.’ That’s all you can ask.”