This Friday, the Fairfield Stags edged Canisius 61-58, to win their sixth consecutive home game. The Stags were led by forward Kristine Miller ‘17. Miller finished the game perfect from the field, going six for six in shooting for 14 points, followed by her 10 rebounds and four steals. This is the second consecutive game against Canisius where Miller has finished the game perfect from the field. In her previous game against Canisius, she finished with the same amount of points and also shot 6-6 from the field.
“Wow, there are not enough superlatives to describe the way she played tonight,” said head coach Joe Frager. “6-6 from the floor, had a double-double — she’s really maturing into a fine player for us. When we recruited her, we knew she had the potential to do those things. I think it’s all been a matter of confidence for her. When Mills believes in herself, I think the sky’s the limit for us. She did a great job today.”
The Stags started the game hot as they came out shooting and scoring the first six points of the game and shooting 50 percent from the field. With just under 10 minutes left in the half, Casey Smith ‘17 committed two straight fouls and was forced to sit out the rest of the half. With Smith’s absence, forward Kelsey Carey ‘17 and guard Margeaux Dupuy ‘16 stepped up from the bench to finish the half with six and five points, respectively.
“We all had to pick it up, we all have to step up,” said Miller. “Smitty’s a huge scorer, huge rebounder for our game, a game changer. So, we all knew with her being out we all had to step up our game 100 percent.”
The Stags finished the half shooting just under 50 percent as they led by one, 26-25.
As the second half started, the Stags continued to move the ball effectively and knock down big shots. “We played with a lot more freedom in the second half,” said Frager. “First half, we were tight as a drum. We were tentative; we got into many deep shot clock situations. In the second half, we were a lot more aggressive and the ball didn’t stick as much. The ball moved more and that was a big key.”
As the half rolled on, both teams continued to drop points in a back and forth manner. However, just as it seemed that Canisius was cutting the lead, the Stags came to knock down clutch shots to increase their lead.
With just 18 seconds left in the game, the Stags held a two-point lead, 58-56. With time running down, Carey came in clutch with a huge steal, followed by two successful free throws. This was a pivotal possession for Canisius as they looked to tie or take the lead. Canisius dropped two more points, but after another foul by Canisius, Miller went to the line where she knocked down both of her shots to close out the game for the Stags as they finished the game 61-58.
“When we play hard, we can beat anyone,” said Miller. “When we stick to our scouting report and listen to what our coaches say, then we’re a very hard team to beat.”
“We’re just scratching and clawing to get a lot of these wins,” said Frager. “Some of them aren’t works of art and when you get into league play this deep in the season, everyone knows each other so well. Towards the end of the year, games get ugly, they get low scoring, but as long as you’re the one with more points at the end, that’s what matters right now.”
The Stags look to continue their hot play as they take on Siena in the friendly confines of Webster Bank Arena on Feb. 21.