FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield University women’s basketball team will embark on their longest trip of the year as the squad heads to Western New York for two games this weekend. For the first time in four years, Niagara will be the Stags’ first opponent on the trip as Fairfield takes on the Purple Eagles at the ‘Taps’ Gallagher Center on Friday at 7 p.m.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Stags are coming off their first loss of the 2017 calendar year as their four-game winning streak was snapped after a close 60-55 setback at league leading Quinnipiac. What should not go unnoticed is that the Stags played arguably their most inspired defensive game of the season. Fairfield held a Quinnipiac team to 11 points fewer than their season average as the Bobcats entered the contest leading the MAAC by scoring 70.9 points per game. The Stags set that defensive tempo early on as the Bobcats misfired on their first 14 shots and only tallied one field goal during the first quarter. Quinnipiac shot 1-for-16 in the opening period, with the .063 shooting percentage being the lowest any Stag opponent has had this season. In total, Quinnipiac hit just three of their first 24 shots before finding their offensive rhythm. The Stags led the entire first half and did not trail until Quinnipiac completed an 8-0 run with 6:16 left in the third quarter. Fairfield actually hit five more field goals than Quinnipiac (22-17) but the Bobcats nailed nine of their 30 3-point attempts for the game.
NOW THAT’S DEFENSE!: Going up against statistically the best offense in the league, the Stags put forth one of their greatest defensive efforts of the season in the loss at Quinnipiac. The Bobcats scored just one field goal through the first quarter as they went 1-for-16 from the field. The .063 shooting percentage is the lowest by any Stag opponent in any quarter since the NCAA started quarter play last season. It is just the second time since the new rule that the Stags have held an opponent to just one field goal in a quarter. Fairfield also accomplished this on January 14, 2016 in the second quarter at Rider. In that period, the Broncs shot just 1-for-7 from the field and missed 11-straight shots combined with the first quarter.
THE PURPLE EAGLES SCOUTING REPORT: Niagara is coming off a loss in their crosstown rivalry with Canisius after a 65-57 setback. The loss is the Purple Eagles’ eighth in the last nine games dating back to December. Niagara is home to one of the best post players in the conference in Victoria Rampado. The forward is currently second in the MAAC in rebounding with 8.1 per game, trailing only Samantha Cooper with 8.4. However, Rampado is among the league’s scoring leaders, as well. Her 15.9 scoring average puts her fourth. Joining her in the frontcourt is the league’s most accurate shooter in Kaylee Stroemple, who has connected on 54 percent of her shots. Niagara is more than just a team with talented post players, as the guards have led the squad to a .358 shooting percentage from behind the arc, the highest in the MAAC.
UP NEXT: The Stags will conclude their weekend stay in Buffalo, N.Y., when they take on Canisius on Sunday at 2 p.m.