Men’s and Women’s Basketball Wrap Up Postseason Trips
For the first time since 2013, the Fairfield men’s and women’s basketball teams both saw their seasons extend beyond the MAAC Championship and into the national postseason. The men’s basketball team received an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), while the women accepted a berth in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).
Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Sydney Johnson, Fairfield men’s basketball experienced a turnaround campaign in 2015-16. Despite a loss to New Hampshire in the CIT First Round on Wednesday, the Stags posted one of the largest improvements in the nation – soaring from seven wins in 2014-15 to 19 victories and a MAAC Championship Semifinal appearance this season.
The club was led by First Team All-MAAC performer Marcus Gilbert ’16, who completed his Fairfield career on Wednesday night ranked fourth all-time in program history with 1,661 career points. Gilbert is also the Stags’ second-most prolific shooter from behind the three-point line with 232 career triples.
Though Gilbert is among the five stalwarts that will graduate from this year’s squad, the future remains bright for the Stags. Coach Johnson will welcome back the MAAC’s top-scoring freshman class and seven of his top eight scorers overall next season. In total, Fairfield is slated to return over 73 percent of its scoring, 71 percent of its rebounding and 83 percent of its assists in 2016-17.
The Fairfield women’s basketball team, led by ninth-year head coach Joe Frager, made the trip to Baltimore to challenge host UMBC on Thursday night in the opening round of the WBI. The Stags were upended by the host Retrievers to end the campaign at 16-15. After posting an 11-9 mark in the MAAC, Frager is the only coach in conference history to begin his career with nine consecutive winning seasons of MAAC play.
Senior standouts Kristin Schatzlein ’16 and Lizzy Ball ’16 – the team’s only two seniors this season – led Fairfield into their fourth WBI appearance. Schatzlein is a First Team All-MAAC honoree after netting 11.3 points per game as one of the conference’s top three-point threats. She capped her Fairfield career with 1,150 career points.
Ball is currently leading the MAAC is assists with 5.0 per game – if that number holds she would be the first Stag since 1996 to lead the conference in that category. She is also 11th in the nation with a MAAC-best 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio and also contributes 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest.
Leading the Stags that are set to return for 2016-17 are Third Team All-MAAC honorees Kelsey Carey ’17 and Casey Smith ’17. The duo netted 12.1 and 11.6 points per game, respectively, in the post for Fairfield this season.