FAIRFIELD, Conn. – What a start to 2017 it has been for the Fairfield University women’s basketball team. Over the last five days, the Stags have rallied for one of the biggest comebacks in program history, averaged 68 points per game, and most importantly have won all three games they have played. The Stags capped their busiest regular season week in five years with a 71-56 victory over Manhattan to match a season long three game winning streak.
“When you win the first two, you really want to win the third,” Kelsey Carey, who averaged a team-high 19 points during the five-day span said. “It definitely takes a toll on your body but I think we stayed together as a team these past five days and I think that’s why we were able to come out today and play as well as we did.”
“We kept saying over and over that there is no such thing as being tired right now,” Head Coach Joe Fragersaid. “They definitely rode that wave of momentum and this was a really important win for us today.”
In one of their best offensive outings of the season, the Stags (7-8, 4-2 MAAC) shot a season-high 54 percent from the floor and matched a season best 71 points. Carey was the only player in the game to eclipse the 20-point plateau as she finished with a season-high 21 points. Carey also recorded her third career double-double by grabbing 10 boards.
Eight of those points came in the first 3:30 of the game as the senior from Staten Island tallied the first eight points for the Stags, including a jumper to break a 6-6 tie to give the Stags a lead they would not relinquish. Fairfield trailed just once in this contest and has trailed for just 24 seconds in their last two wins combined.
Fairfield led by as many as 15 in the first half behind another double digit scoring performance by Samantha Cooperwho reached double digits in scoring for the third-straight game. The redshirt junior recorded 10 of her 14 points in the first half, including a 2-for-4 mark from deep.
Manhattan (5-10, 1-5 MAAC), who was playing their second-straight game without last year’s MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Amani Tatum, kept fighting and eventually cut their deficit to as little as five points (36-31) with seven minutes left in the third quarter. The Stags would get back control, however, ending the period on a 19-10 run but hitting their final six field goals in the third quarter. In fact, Fairfield knocked down nine-straight shots spanning into the fourth quarter which gave Fairfield their largest lead of the game at 19 points.
Casey Smithjoined Carey and Cooper in the double digit club with 14 points and six rebounds. Shooting guard Casey Foleyfilled out the stat sheet by dishing out a career-high nine assists, the most by any Stag player this season. The sophomore also tallied eight points and three steals. Her play at guard also seemed to cut down on the team’s turnovers as Fairfield finished with a season-low nine miscues.
The Stags shot over 40 percent in every quarter, including an even 58.3 percent in the second half. With the three post players, Fairfield out-scored Manhattan 42-18 inside the paint.
“If you’re able to play and perform and get a good win when your legs are a little tired, you learn from that and you put that in the back of your mind,” Coach Frager said. “We’re getting better. I’m seeing noticeable improvements with us as a team. I told them I still think our best basketball is still ahead of us so it’s out challenge now to get incrementally better.”
The Stags will now have nearly a week off to rest from their three games in five days stretch with their next game coming on Saturday at 2pm at Rider.