Monday, January 8, 2007

Women Pull Out 57-54 Win

Fairfield was able to hold on for a 57-54 win over Loyola on Monday night in Baltimore. The win improves Fairfield to 7-8 overall (3-1 MAAC) and gives them sole possession of 3rd place in the conference while the loss dropped Loyola to 7-7 (2-2).

The Stags were looking to rebound after several tough losses. Coming into the game, Fairfield had lost three in a row, two nailbitters on the road, and then a disappointing loss to conference-leading Marist.

The outcome of this game determined whether or not Fairfield would improve to 3-1 or drop to 2-2 in the MAAC. Head Coach Dianne Nolan emphasized how important a win was on the road, in the conference.

"We would like to beat each team at least once in case of tiebreakers and this win puts us in sole possession of 3rd place," said Nolan. She went on to note that third place is the lowest Fairfield wants to fall.

Despite coming off of a discouraging loss to Marist, the women came out strong. At one point early in the game, the women hit four three in-a-row, providing a 26-17 lead.

Nolan talked about how the players were able to turn it around, "We played with a lot of energy and focus. We played with purpose."

Sophomore forward Baendu Lowenthal also remarked on the turnaround from the Marist game, "We buckled down in practice and worked on defense."

Lowenthal can often be heard on the bench yelling encourgment, and on the court yelling "Ball!" on defense. She also led the Stags in scoring with Sabra Wrice '08 who both had 14 points apiece.

Yet, Fairfield couldn't sustain their sucess. Loyola slowly chipped away at the Stag's lead, helped in part by sloppy ball handling and passes from Fairfield. In addition, the Stags put Loyola in the bonus with 6:34 left in the half. Not only did this allow the Greyhounds to shoot plenty of one and ones, but it also kept several key players on the bench.

Lowenthal and sophomore Shireyll Moore both had picked up two fouls at the half along with freshman Tara Flaherty who had already racked up five.

"Everyone has to be a little more careful. You don't want to pick up that fifth foul that will keep you out," said Lowenthal.

Loyola was able to take the lead for a short period before the half, but Fairfield ened the half on a positive note.

Senior guard Cara Murphy checked into the game for the final possession. The ball was inbounded and Murphy hit a 22 foot three with .02 seconds left on the clock. The shot sent the Stags into the half with a three point lead and something positive to work on.

Coming out of the half, Fairfield again went on a roll, breaking out to a 41-34 lead. They later stretched it to 47-38.

Yet, Loyola would not go away. Junior center Vika Sholokhova hit two three pointers in the next two and one-half minutes while senior Jill Glessner made two layups. Another jumper in between cut the lead to three.

Despite their sometimes streaky play, the Stags were able rebound in the clutch and hit their foul shots, holding off the Greyhounds to provide the final margin of 57-54.

Fairfield used a balanced attack to provide their offense with nine players scoring. The Stags also shot 10 of 11 from the charity stripe while Loyola struggled, making only 10 of 20.

The Stags were also able to use their frontcourt strength to outrebound Loyola 38-34, lead by freshman Stephanie Geehan's seven.

Geehan received her first start of the year in this game and immediately proved Nolan's move a good one. She hit two jumpers right out of the gate and despite not hitting another the rest of the game, she provided solid defense and rebounding down low in the post. Geehan also pulled down her 100th rebound of her young career during the game and now has 102 in her first season.

Nolan tried to mix up her lineup to give her team a boost. She felt that certain players would benefit from coming off the bench and that Fairfield played much better in the first half than they have in the previous few games when the Stags were a second half team.

Sophomore Lauren Groom was another player who received her first start. She led the Stags in assists with three, while also racking up seven points and pulling down four rebounds.

Fairfield has set itself up for a good run in the MAAC as the Stags continue their road conference trip against Sienna on Friday. Sienna is currently 2-12 overall and 1-3 in the MAAC. Yet as an example of how tight the MAAC can be, Sienna took Iona (4-0 MAAC) into double overtime before falling.

-Chris Simmons

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing on the Stag website yet about the game. Your story and half time report was well written but more importantly timely. Nicely done.