School Day Game Brings 2,000 Children and Fans
More than 2,000 children and Stags fans witnessed basketball history on a recent Friday afternoon, as the Fairfield women’s team won their 250th game at Alumni Hall, defeating the Saint Peter’s Peacocks 57-46 in the first-ever Stop & Shop School Day game.
“It was a fantastic environment,” Head Coach Joe Frager said. “I know our kids really enjoyed the atmosphere, and the school children who were here had a fantastic time. I thought this was a rousing success and hopefully we’ll be able to do it again in the future.”
The Fairfield Athletics Department and the Connecticut Writing Project partnered on the first annual Stop & Shop School Day Game. At 10:30am, five local elementary schools arrived at Alumni Hall ready to get out some energy and learn in an interactive environment. Over 1,500 students participated in a day full of writing, reading and math exercises that were designed around the Fairfield women's basketball game. Each child received a newspaper dubbed "the Stagazine" containing an article about ways to improve writing skills, roster information about the college players, as well as a word search and space for the teachers to help the students reflect on their experience.
The timeout entertainment challenged the kids to use their math and spelling skills in addition to coordination as youngsters participated in a three-legged dribbling contest.
Kristin Schatzlein hit a 3-point basket to stretch the Fairfield lead (4-10, 3-2 MAAC) to 12 points with 3:32 minutes remaining. The Stags led the Peacocks (1-12, 1-4 MAAC) for 37 minutes on the afternoon, but struggled to put Saint Peter’s away. That basket allowed the Stags to exhale and enjoy their ninth straight win over Saint Peter’s.
Fairfield had their largest lead of 15 points with 10 minutes left to go in the game after a layup by Kristine Miller. She was one of eight Stags to tally a point in the game.
The home team, playing in their earliest game of the season, would host another 15-point lead when Casey Smith, playing in front of a school where she was an assistant, converted a layup to stretch the score to 48-33.
Three Stags tallied double figures, but Felicia DaCruz had arguably her best game of the season. The point guard tied a season-high with 10 points and swished both of her 3-point attempts in the contest.
“She’s starting to get her rhythm back,” Coach Frager said. “I wasn’t worried about that; I knew she would come around. She shot the ball well last year. With her shooting the ball this way, it gives us another offensive weapon.”
“I’m just getting back into it,” said DaCruz. “I’m going to keep having confidence in myself and my teammates and just try and help out as much as I can.”
The Stags settled down in the second half, going the first 13 minutes without a turnover. Fairfield took a five-point lead into halftime, and did not see a lead less than that for the rest of the game.
Fairfield shot 57 percent (4-7) from deep in the second frame, and 47 percent from long range in the game, with the highest percentage since December 7 against Quinnipiac. Schatzlein led the way for the Stags, connecting on three of her six attempts. She finished with 11 points.
For the second straight game, the Stags outrebounded their opponent this time by a 39-27 clip. Smith led the Stags with seven boards, while Samantha Cooper and Kelsey Carey tallied six apiece. Smith led the way with a game-high of 13 points. It is the third time in the last four games that Smith has paced the Stags.
Saint Peter’s leading scorer and freshman, Alyssa Velles connected on her first of three 3-point field goals 1:35 minutes into the game to give Saint Peter’s their only lead of the day. DaCruz answered back with a driving layup to give Fairfield a 4-3 lead, and they never looked back.
“It’s not easy to be good,” Coach Frager said. “You have to work really hard on every single possession offensively and defensively, and some of our young kids are just starting to understand that.”
The Stags will now travel to Lawrenceville, N.J., and try to win their third-straight game as they take on Rider. It is the fourth game in the last seven days for the Stags. Game time is Sunday at 2 p.m.