The Fairfield University women’s basketball team used a National stage on ESPN3 and a two-hour team meeting as launching pads to a MAAC conference road victory Thursday night, downing Rider University, 55-39, to snap a three–game losing streak.
The Stags continue their road trip against Manhattan at Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale on Saturday.
“What it all boiled down to was I think everyone was pressing,” said Head Coach Joe Frager “The players want to win, the coaching staff wants to win, and I think we had to remind ourselves that we are all in this thing together.”
It was the most balanced scoring effort of the season for the Stags (7-9, 2-5) as eight different players scored in the 16-point victory.
“I’m extremely happy,” added Frager. “We were ready for a tough one, and I think the kids did a much better job at paying attention to the scouting report and trying to take away some of their strengths. I think once we got a lead, we did a much better job at maintaining our focus and not letting them back in it.”
It was the 41st meeting between Fairfield and Rider, with the Stags holding a 35-6 advantage in the series.
The offense took center stage first, with every starter scoring during a first quarter that featured the Stags tally nine points in the first five minutes (they only scored eight during the entire opening period in the previous game against Saint Peter’s). Fairfield continued a 13-0 run into the second quarter capped by a Lizzy Ball three-pointer that gave the Stags their largest lead at 20-5.
In the, the defense took over. The Stags actually held the Broncs to just one field goal in the second quarter. The defensive stand featured a span of Fairfield not allowing a Rider field goal for over 12 minutes spanning from the 5:16 mark in the first quarter to the 3:34 mark in the second.
Kelsey Carey anchored the defense with seven first half rebounds, and the Stags took a 26-13 lead into the locker room at half time.
The defensive stand continued in the second half. At the 4:58 mark of the third quarter, the Stags held Rider to just four total field goals and the Broncs were shooting a combined 12.1 percent (4-for-33).
Fairfield started the third quarter on a 13-3 run to put the game out of reach with the Stags elevating their lead to 22 points at the 4:44 mark.
Lizzy Ball established a career high with her 10th point to open up the fourth quarter and Rider would not get closer than 14-points the rest of the way.
“I’m thrilled for Lizzy,” Frager said. “When she can play like that, teams have to guard us a little differently and it opened some things for us. I thought she played really well.”
Carey tied her career-high with nine rebounds.
THE COUNTDOWN FOR SCHATZ: It is time to officially start the milestone watch for senior Kristin Schatzlein. Schatzlein is currently 31 points shy from becoming the 28th Stag to reach the 1000 point club and the fifth recruited by Head Coach Joe Frager. Schatzlein is also fourth in program history in 3-pointers made with 182, and fifth in 3-point shooting percentage. The best game of the season for Schatzlein came in the loss at Niagara when she set a career-high in points (22) and 3-pointers made (six.). Schatzlein was one 3-pointer shy of tying the school’s single game record which was last done by Alexys Vazquez in 2010. Schatzlein became the first Stag since Vazquez in 2013 to hit six long range shots in a game.
THE BALL IS ALL HERS: The only Stag to ever wear the number 1, Lizzy Ball has seen that number quite a bit in her first season as the Stags’ point guard. She currently leads the MAAC in assists per game (5.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4). Ball has also accounted for 39.6 percent of the team’s assists, the 24th most impactful number in the country. Ball is trying to become the first Stag to take the conference’s assist crown since Christine Fryer in the 1995-96 season.