By: Colton Pankiewicz, Assistant Sports Editor
Coming into this MAAC matchup against the Fairfield Stags, Canisius sat just three games back from a top three seed. After tip-off, the Griffs looked like a team ready to competein March.
Leading a strong Fairfield opponent 19-16 after ten minutes, Canisius came out hot to start the second quarter. Graduate student Vannessa Garrelts’ two quick finds to sophomore guard Elia Paez, and the Griffs’ leading scorer Dani Haskell, gave the Griffs a seven point lead, their biggest of the night. The first-half ended on a Garrelts three-pointer that fell in as time expired. Canisius went into the second frame leading 37-32.
In their first time leading at half since January 12th at Rider, second-year Head Coach Sahar Nusseibeh’s girls fought off the Stags until late in the third quarter when Fairfield guard Izabela Nicoletti-Leite’s layup gave her team their first lead since the first quarter.
“I think Fairfield was probably the best half court execution we showed offensively, and I thought our half court defense was probably the most solid we’ve been in a long time,” said Nusseibeh.
The Griffs regained their lead midway through the fourth quarter and held it for just 49 seconds, before Fairfield’s Mimi Rubino found a lane to the basket and finished in the paint as she put in two of her 19 points on the night, a career-high. Fairfield had a snare on Canisius in the last five minutes, holding them scoreless on eight attempts.
Canisius watched as a pair of Fairfield free-throws ended the scoring on the night, a final score of 65-55 plastered on the scoreboard as the buzzer sounded. The girls walked away with their sixth straight loss despite a promising first half where they held a seven point lead. Fairfield's second half success showed why they are highly respected in the MAAC with an 8-3 record.
The Griffs showed where they still had room to grow, coming home with a 3-8 record in MAAC play, still with nine games to go and a lot of time to turn things around.
Canisius returns home this weekend to face off against the Iona Gaels who have won nine straight, but Nusseibeh emphasized that the Griffs won't be running from anyone.
“I think when we're locked in we can defend, so I'm excited to see what we look like defensively against them. They run on a system that we're pretty familiar with, and they run it really well, so I'm not taking anything away from that but I'm really excited to see how we match up player for player against their system,” she said.