ATLANTIC CITY – No. 25 Fairfield University’s Women’s basketball team took control of its historic season with a second-half comeback, securing a 70-62 win in overtime against the Niagara Purple Eagles. The Stags extended their winning streak to 29 games, the second longest in the nation, after winning the MAAC championship game on March 16.

While the win catapulted Fairfield into its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance, the team struggled through much of the first two quarters, committing 17 turnovers and making 35 percent of its field goals.

Obviously, a tough start to the game but this time just stuck together. They found a way to bring energy to each other, to connect, and to pour into one another when we needed it.

Fairfield University Women’s Basketball Head Coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis

Head Coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis recognized the team’s struggles but highlighted its passion and energy as the conductor for their revival.

“Obviously, a tough start to the game but this time just stuck together. They found a way to bring energy to each other, to connect, and to pour into one another when we needed it,” said the MAAC Coach of the Year. “They were incredibly tough down the stretch, not only on the defensive end but stayed poised on the offensive end.”

“I’m just so proud of them for bringing it home,” said Thibault-DuDonis in a press release after marking her first MAAC Championship win.

A moment of hope overcame the stadium and the Stag’s fan zone at the start of the fourth quarter when Fairfield was down by seven points. Chants of “Let’s go Fairfield” were audible, and four personal fouls by Niagara energized the Cardinal Red crowd even more.

The first point of the quarter came by Freshman Meghan Andersen with 8:25 left on the clock. Niagara was still up, 50-44.

A three-point shot by Janelle Brown ‘24 with the clock at 7:10 revived the Fairfield Stags, with the crowd and the players celebrating a comeback effort. At 50-47, the Stags were closing up.

Coming from a media timeout, Niagara scored a three-point basket and received an extra point from a Fairfield foul. The Stags responded with a two-point shot, and the game score still has Niagara leading at 54-49.

With 4:57 left, Kaety L’Amoreaux threw a three-pointer assisted by Brown, and Niagara responded with two points. Andersen then gave Fairfield another triple and closed the gap to 56-55. 

At that moment, the Fairfield fan section started clapping on their feet. It was the loudest moment of the game, with the clock indicating two minutes left of action.

Brown then takes the ball into the paint and makes a two-pointer. Fairfield leads for the first time in the game with 1:31 left, forcing Niagara to take a timeout. The atmosphere changed at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, and optimism was felt for the first time.

After receiving a foul from Niagara, Brown went to the free-throw line, making one of the two throws. The score was 58-56, with Fairfield in the lead. However, a Fairfield foul committed with 37 seconds left in regulation sent Niagara unsuccessfully to the foul line.

Brown then committed her fourth foul of the afternoon, sending Niagara Guard Angel Parker to the free-throw line with 29 seconds left. She made both of them, and the game was tied. Fairfield called a timeout.

With three seconds left, Brown committed a foul while trying to make a shot. Niagara had the ball with 3.1 seconds left and the championship in the line.

The game ended with a tie, forcing a five-minute overtime game.

With the start of the overtime period, the Stags returned to court energized and determined to continue leading the scoreboard. After four quarters dominated by Niagara, Fairfield took full control of the game and only allowed four Purple Eagles points.

With the win, Fairfield guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament as the 13-seed in Albany Regional 1 against the No. 4-seed Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday.

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