For the 14th time and the fifth consecutive year, The Fairfield University Women’s Basketball team competed on Superbowl Sunday against Monmouth University. The Fairfield Stags (5-16) and The Monmouth Hawks (8-12) faced off at Alumni Hall on Sunday, Feb. 3 in front of stands filled with local girl scouts and young fans to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Fairfield played with grit and intensity but were defeated 73-63. They came back to campus from a close loss on Feb. 1 in the Bronx 47-41 against Manhattan College.
Head Coach Joe Frager compared Sunday’s game to that of the previous Friday. He said the most notable difference between the two was the tempo of the game. “I thought the game with Manhattan in both directions was just sort of a slow sluggish tempo and I thought we had fewer offensive opportunities at Manhattan- fewer possessions.” He also praised his players for their strong start facing Monmouth as well as their passion to clinch such a substantial lead in the third period.
Fairfield put up a valiant fight, making the match a riveting one to watch. In the end, they lengthened their losing streak to two, as the final score was cemented at 73-63. The first five points of the match were claimed by Monmouth, who flashed their offensive edge rebounding four times on the same possession before a layup by Fairfield’s No. 14 Casey Foley ’19
destroyed their momentum. Foley accomplished a career high of 19 points and five steals for the second straight game. The quintuple pilfers contributed to her career total of 157, launching her further up the list of the program’s all-time list at number 13. Her leadership on and off the court is clearly a vital contribution to her fellow teammates. Coach Frager recognizes her talents and even went so far as to say that she carried her team on her back in the early stretch of the game.
“She’s not hanging her head, and she’s going out and giving us a tremendous effort all the time. She leads by example, she leads vocally and I don’t know where we’d be without her,” Coach Frager noted.
Fairfield was outrebounded 36-24 by the end of the game, which proves to be an area worthy of focus going into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament on March 7. Foley also went 3-4 from the field in the first period and was instrumental in keeping the competition close heading into the second quarter. Monmouth shot 6-for-7 from deep, displaying incredible skill. Fairfield guard Rachel Hakes ’22 capped the scoring in the first at 22-19.
The Stags would have to make up for a three point deficit. A three-pointer by Foley knotted the score in the third and it was preceded by a 7-0 run which gave Fairfield a four-point lead – their highest of the game so far. The Stags secured a 32-30 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Redshirt No. 1 Katie Armstrong ‘17 tallied 13 points in the full 40 minutes of play and was instrumental in the Stags 12-4 run, which ended in a 10 point advantage for the home team. She picked up the foul and a layup, contributing three points in a single play. This impetus was met by a stronger Monmouth force. The third period came to a draw when the Hawks got away with a 10-0 run. Fairfield’s double digit lead was forfeited immediately and once again, the teams met at a draw. Fairfield would not lead at all in the fourth quarter, and collapsed to their competition.
Alumni Hall will see another match this coming Thursday, Feb. 7 against Canisius College where our Stags will hope to redeem themselves.
Coach Frager gave us insight into how he plans to prepare his group for Thursday’s game. He emphasized the importance of a well rested team, and stressed that, since our Stags have played three games in such a short window (Siena: Jan. 29, Manhattan: Feb. 1, Monmouth: Feb. 3), they would get the day off after Sunday’s matchup. He detailed practice plans for the week, describing how they intend on moving forward after a tough loss. “We would regroup on Tuesday and Wednesday, and we’ll look at the Canisius film from the first time we played them. It was a three point loss, a very competitive loss there.”
Frager identified the two skills that need extra attention for this group. The first being ball security; “making sure we don’t turn the ball over in key junctures of the game, especially when we have a lead” and the second being the psychology of keeping a lead. Coach Frager stressed that “we’ve got to fill our heads with more positive thoughts at that point.” These may be arguably some of the most important points of focus in the game of basketball, and identifying these weaknesses and attempting to work on them will certainly make for a holistically successful team.