BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Fairfield University women’s basketball team showed something today. They not only showed that they could compete with and beat one of the top teams in the conference, but they can also do it in dominating fashion. The Stags led wire-to-wire and held Quinnipiac to 31 percent shooting in an impressive 65-52 victory at the Webster Bank Arena.
“Going into the game we were saying ‘we have nothing to lose,’” Samantha Coopersaid. “We just practiced hard and gave it our all and came out with the win.”
“Everyone did contribute, and to beat a team like Quinnipiac, that’s what you need to do,” Head Coach Joe Frager said. “Yesterday I think the team had a laser focus in practice and we brought that same kind of focus. We maintained mentally and emotionally what we wanted to do and we cut down on our carelessness with the basketball.”
The Stags (11-11, 8-5 MAAC) grabbed a lead they would not relinquish on their first shot of the game. Macey Hollensheadhit a long jumper 45 seconds into the game, and the early scoring just started for the Stags. Four different players would score the next four baskets for the Stags, who jumped out to a 9-2 lead. Quinnipiac (17-6, 10-3 MAAC) needed five minutes to get their first field goal which didn’t come until Vanessa Udoji’s layup at the 5:09 mark.
That five point margin would be the smallest for the Stags for the rest of the game. The Stags stretched that lead to eight by the end of the first quarter as Casey Smithhit two free throws with seven seconds left to give the Stags a 16-8 lead.
The Stags would lead by three possessions the rest of the way, holding at least a seven point during the win. Although the Stags had one of their most balanced halves of the season with seven different players getting in the scoring column, it was the play of Smith that gave the Stags a double digit lead going into halftime. Smith scored a team-high 13 points in the first half, including four in the final 29 seconds.
Quinnipiac cut the lead to eight on a couple occasions in the third quarter, but the story of the game was still the Stags. Every time the Bobcats made a run, they responded. After Quinnipiac scored six points in the final 1:40 of the third quarter, Sam Kramerhit a 3-pointer in the corner to begin the fourth quarter and the Stags would lead by double digits for the rest of the contest. Her layup at the 7:18 mark gave the Stags their largest lead of the game at 17.
“This game is a confidence booster, but it’s not the end,” Smith said. “We still have seven games to go and a lot more basketball to play. It’s nice to come in with our record boosted a little bit, but it’s not over.”
Smith scored a game-high 17 points, bringing her career total to 983. Carey added nine points which brought her career slate to 981. As usual, Cooper was the leader on the boards as she tied a career-high with 16 rebounds and recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 12 points. Casey Foleyalso had a productive day with a team-high four assists to go along with one block and two steals. It is the ninth-straight game the sophomore has recorded at least one steal.
The Stags held Quinnipiac to 31.3 shooting (20-for-64), the second lowest percentage by an opponent this season. The Bobcats shot 14 percent (4-for-28) from deep, the best perimeter defense the Stags have had all season.
Fairfield will look to build on this important win when they host the Saint Peter’s Peacocks at Alumni Hall on Super Bowl Sunday at 2pm.