Courtesy: Fairfield University

Cheering Kids Drive Stags to Hard-Fought Win

Courtesy: Fairfield University
January 06, 2017

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - The Fairfield University women’s basketball team could already sense the atmosphere that exuded from over 1,000 screaming kids on George Bisacca Court at Alumni Hall. Today, those energetic and exciting kids gave the Stags an extra sense of confidence as Fairfield used that motivation to lead the entire game and defeat Siena 61-57 for their second-straight win.

“Coach Frager emphasized before the game that this is when kids decide that they want to play a college sport,” Samantha Cooper, who recorded her second-straight double-double said. “He just wanted to make sure that we were good role models on and off the court for them so that we give them something to look up to.”

It took just 54 seconds for Cooper and the Stags to give something that the local kids could look up to. Cooper’s 3-pointer to begin the game would be the last time that the Stags (6-8, 3-2 MAAC) would have to break a tie. Fairfield would lead for over 39 minutes in the contest and lead by as many as 14 points in the first half. Cooper was at the forefront of that run as the redshirt junior connected on her first three long range shots.

Although the Stags did not trail, Siena (3-11, 2-3 MAAC) kept the pressure on the home side throughout the entire game, eventually shrinking that deficit to as little as two points (43-41) with 7:23 left in the game.

That’s when the youthful crowd started to give Fairfield that extra push. And the team responded.

“It just gives us another gear of excitement,” Kelsey Carey, who tallied 16 points said. “Having that support means a lot to us, as a team and as a program. Having those kids come here makes a big difference.”

Carey’s layup was in the middle of an 8-2 Fairfield run in the fourth quarter to extend the lead back to eight after the Stags turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes of the final period on Siena’s pressure defense.

Siena cut the lead back to four, but Casey Smith tallied six points in the fourth and each bucket would come in a critical time to give the Stags the eventual win. All of Smith’s 10 points came in the second half after the redshirted senior was limited to just three minutes in the first half after foul trouble.

After allowing just two of 10 3-pointers to Monmouth in the second half in their last time out, the Fairfield defense stepped up again from behind the arc as Siena shot just 4-for-22 (18 percent) from deep.

For the first time in her career, Cooper recorded her second-straight double as she collected a team-high 18 points to go with a game-high 13 rebounds. Cooper continues to lead the conference in rebounds in MAAC games as she is the only player in the conference to average double figures in that category.

Jackie Benitez led all scorers with 19 points to go with a game-high five steals.

The Stags will look to match their longest winning streak of the season when they host Manhattan on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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