Friday, January 26, 2007

Niagara Falls, Stags defeat Purple Eagles 81-70

The women’s basketball team was looking to keep pace in the conference standings with their division foes on Friday afternoon.

The Stags were successful, defeating Niagara for the second time this season, 81-70.

Head coach Dianne Nolan was worried coming into the game that the Purple Eagle’s would be out looking for revenge.

“I feel [Niagara] was a dangerous opponent. We beat them up in their place for their first home loss. I’m sure it was a date circled on their calanders.”

However, against a very tough Niagara team (11-8), the Stags were able to build a lead and hold on in spite of the Purple Eagle’s dangerous three point shooting.

Niagara was able to shoot 43.8 percent from behind the arc for the game, yet it wasn’t enough as Fairfield was even better at 61.5 percent.

That high percentage was due mainly to the hot hand of junior guard Sabra Wrice. Wrice scored a game and season-high of 23 points, 12 of which came from downtown. She credited her good game to practicing throughout the week.

“We just practiced coming to the ball, curling to it. It helped me get into a rhythm, so when I’m shooting, I’m already in position to shoot and make the shot,” she said.

Wrice wasn’t the only Stag hitting shots though. Five players for Fairfield had double digits in points, including Wrice.

Nolan could be heard on the sideline imploring sophomore guard Megan Caskin to “get the ball to B”.

B would be sophomore forward Baendu Lowenthal. Lowenthal was able to put in 12 points along with pulling down 12 rebounds for the double-double.

Fairfield was paced in rebounding by Lowenthal and freshman Stephanie Geehan was not far behind with seven. Overall, the Stags out rebounded the Purple Eagles 39-30.

This rebounding advantage allowed Fairfield to score 26 second chance points compared to Niagara’s eight.

The game remained close throughout the first half with both teams having success shooting from nearly everywhere on the floor.

However, in the second half, the Stag’s defense showed through, holding Niagara to 40 percent shooting.

“I though defensively in the second half we did what we needed to do,” said Nolan.

When the Purple Eagles cut the lead to eight late in the second half, Wrice stepped up and hit several big shots, including one off of her own steal on an inbounds pass.

Nolan recognized the importance of another conference win.

“We’ve been fighting and fighting and certainly our MAAC record is something you want to get up there, and this does that. And it’s the product of the hard work of these players,” she said.

The win improves Fairfield to 10-10 overall and 6-3 in the MAAC. With Iona’s loss to Loyola on Thursday, the Stags now sit only one game back of second place.

The MAAC standing currently have Iona and Loyola tied for second at 7-2 in the conference. The Stags beat the Greyhounds earlier in the season down in Baltimore.

Fairfield returns to play on Sunday against Loyola. If they win, they only have Iona to keep them from the number two seed in the MAAC.

-Chris Simmons

No comments: