Category Archives: Women

Women’s sports coverage

Marist Womens Basketball: A MAAC Dynasty

ALBANY, N.Y. — The big story on the women’s side is that Marist is the MAAC Tournament Champion for the fifth straight year after defeating Fairfield 66-49 early Sunday afternoon. But before I get into that, it would be unfair not to mention Fairfield’s unbelievable run to the MAAC title game. To win nine games in a row and get itself to the final after all the injuries this season was truly incredible. Winning its third game in three days with a virtually non-existent bench was simply too tall of a task. However, if it weren’t for the overwhelming excellence of the opponent, the Stags may have been able to do it.

The fact that the opponent was top-seeded Marist was no surprise. There hasn’t been a MAAC Tournament final in the last seven years that hasn’t involved the Red Foxes. The most amazing part, though, is of course the consecutive championships. Consider that on the men’s side the most consecutive titles won is three (by LaSalle). It may seem like the Saints have been dominating for a long time, but the Siena men have only won two in a row and are appearing in only their fourth straight final.

In other words, the Marist women’s basketball dynasty is unlike any other in MAAC hoops history. Leading the way is 6′ forward Rachele Fitz. The senior has done nothing but win since arriving on campus. Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said, “If there’s a better player in the history of this league, I’d like to meet her.” Hard to argue with him considering Fitz’s resume which, after this weekend’s wins and awards, includes four MAAC regular season and conference titles, three MAAC Player of the Year awards, and two MAAC Tournament MVPs, to name a few.

She is averaging 18 points and eight rebounds this season. Despite some foul trouble that kept her on the bench for a period in the first half, Fitz still scored 15 in the title game, shooting seven-of-12 from the field. She is modest enough to deflect praise to her teammates and coaching staff, but anyone involved with women’s basketball in the MAAC knows about her great career. A couple of wins in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and even more people in the college basketball community will know too.

Fairfield eliminates the Gaels from one tournament, helps them get into another: Iona may have lost to the Stags on Saturday, but Fairfield’s loss to Marist in the title game guaranteed that the Gaels would receive an invite to the NIT. Per NCAA rules, if the regular season champ also wins the conference tournament, then the second-place team automatically gets an NIT bid. Therefore, Marist’s win clinched a spot for Iona.

Iona head coach Anthony Bozzella, good friends with Giorgis, was appreciative of the Red Foxes accomplishment. Said Giorgis: “I already got a text that said ‘congrats and thanks.'”

Fairfield Women Advance to MAAC Finals, Will Face Top Seed Marist

ALBANY, NY. — Remember when the Fairfield women were 10-12 overall and 4-7 in the MAAC? That was as recently as a month ago, after the Stags fell 55-41 to St. Peter’s, their seventh loss in nine games. To say Fairfield has since turned it around would be the understatement of the season. After defeating Iona 61-57 earlier this morning in the semifinals of the MAAC Tournament, the Stags are riding a nine-game winning streak into the championship game against No. 1 seed Marist. How did this happen?

From Iona head coach Anthony Bozzella’s perspective, it’s all  about confidence. After the Stags eliminated the Gaels from the Tournament, Bozzella spoke about this being a different Fairfield squad, one that is playing with a ton of confidence. Fairfield, the three seed, eliminated the second-seeded Gaels with the help of 16 points from Stephanie Geehan. It’s hard to believe this team was tied eighth place in the conference with only seven games left.

If Fairfield is going to win its 10th straight, it’s going to have to beat the four-time defending champions in the Marist Red Foxes. Led by three-time MAAC Player of the Year Rachele Fitz, Marist defeated Niagara 69-47. Fitz had 17 of Marist’s 30 points in the first half and finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds despite being under the weather.

The last time these two teams met, Fairfield was coming off the aforementioned loss to St. Pete’s. The 61-60 upset of the Red Foxes energized the Stags, which haven’t lost since that matchup on Feb. 9. Marist won the first contest at home by seven.

“I think the biggest thing for them was getting Tara Flaherty back,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis. I think that really, really changed their team. And (Fairfield head coach) Joe Frager does a great job. He didn’t win a national championship in Division II for nothing. He’s a very smart coach. He’s not very deep, but what he has is very good. We know we’ll have our hands full.”

Having been in the title game the past six years, Marist certainly comes in with the target on its back. “You always would rather be the hunted than to be the hunter,” Giorgis said. “The important thing that we’ve been trying to do is get these guys to play like the hunter.” Given Fairfield’s winning streak, that might not be such a tough sell.