The Stags faced off against Niagara for their first matchup in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament and took the win 65-57 to advance to the MAAC semifinals for the first time since 2012.
Both teams started the game hot as they were matching each other point for point. It was a one-point game through the first six minutes. The Stags were then able to knock down shots and grab rebounds on both the offensive and defensive end. The team contested all shots by Niagara.
Fairfield went on a 10-0 run, where they held a 12-point lead. However, Niagara battled their way back into the game as they finished the half tied with Fairfield at 28.
Through the first ten minutes of the second half, the game continued to be close with the lead being less than ten points. With less than 12 minutes remaining in the game, the game was once again tied for the sixth time in the contest. Freshman Samantha Cooper broke the tie with a lay-up and started a decisive 17-5 run that ended with a jumper by Felicia DaCruz ‘15. Shortly after Niagara lost their leading scorer Meghan McGuinness, as she was fouled out. Despite losing their leader, Niagara continued to fight as they cut the game down to a two point lead with 48 seconds remaining.
With time winding down, DaCruz made a quick inside pass to Kristine Miller ‘17 for the layup and foul, where she would convert and push the lead to a two-possession game with 20 seconds left in the game. The Stags played well defensively in the final minutes of the half to close out the game and advance to the next round. The team was led by Casey Smith ‘17 who finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds and DaCruz also added 10 points with 9 assists, one shy of a double-double. Defeating the sixth-seed Niagara 65-57, the team would take on Marist next.
Offense was the central theme in the first half as the Stags hit 8-12 of their first shots, including four from behind the arc to score 20 points in the first eight minutes. Junior Kristin Schatzlein lead the Stags with 9 points, where she was a perfect 3-3 from three-point range. Marist was just as hot, as they came out shooting 8-11 as both teams were exchanging points in each possession. The Stags held the lead 22-19, with less than 13 minutes remaining in the half. After the powerful play to start the game, the Stags struggled to knock down shots as they finished the half, making one of their next 22 attempts. While Fairfield struggled, Marist continued to play well as they ended the half on a 10-0 run to lead 37-26 at the half.
Fairfield entered the second half without their leading scorer, Smith, as she exited the game with concussion like symptoms after an inadvertent elbow to the head. The Stags continued to struggle in the second half, while Marist continued to push forward. With less than eight minutes left in the game and the lead up to 17, the Stags made a final run where they cut the lead to 11, but Marist did not let up and finished the game off with the win, 67-50. Marist was led by both Madeline Blais and Sydney Coffey who added a combined 41 points, with five three-pointers.
Marist went on to face #1 seeded Quinnipiac in the championship game, where Quinnipiac came out on top 72-61 to become the 2015 MAAC Champions.
Next season, the Stags will look to better their record, but will have to do it without one of the best that the program has seen, DaCruz. The loss will be detrimental to the team, but the Stags will be returning 93 percent of their scoring, making them one of the upcoming teams in the MAAC.
Leave a Reply