Baumann clutch as Trojans edge Keokuk 44-41
With the clock closing in on 0:00 vs. Keokuk Thursday, Fairfield’s Sidney Baumann wanted the ball in her hands.
The experienced senior got her wish.
Baumann scored the final five points for Fairfield — all clutch makes from the charity stripe — to break a 39-all tie and lift the Trojans over Keokuk 44-41 in a pivotal Southeast Conference matchup in Fairfield.
Baumann drew fouls on three consecutive possessions for Fairfield, hitting 5 of 6 attempts in the game’s final 90 seconds. The senior scored eight of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, although she played just 23 minutes due to foul trouble.
“It was very important for me to have the ball in my hands just to get it past half court,” said Baumann, Fairfield’s leading scorer this season with nearly 15 points per game. “I wanted to be in that position [at the free throw line].”
Her clutch shots knocked Keokuk down to 7-6 overall, 3-2 in the SEC and kept Fairfield (6-7, 2-3 SEC) in the thick of the conference race.
And in the thick of it all is exactly where Baumann expects her Trojans to be.
“We were so ready for that,” Baumann said. “We’re already past Christmas, and to get our first win [at home] ... shows we’re not just a team people pass up anymore. We’re still fighting for that title, and we always will be.”
The Trojans trailed 29-27 after three quarters but caught fire on their way to a 17-point final period. The Chiefs scored the first basket in the fourth, but Baumann scored the next three points to pull Fairfield within one. Junior Marisa Repp scored another three points for Fairfield, sandwiched around a putback from junior Hanna Greiner, to increase Fairfield’s lead to 35-31.
Fairfield continued to hold its lead until the 1:30 mark, when Keokuk’s Rachel Dunlap tied the game at 39-all with a putback of her own. Baumann made three free throws on Fairfield’s next two possessions to build a 42-39 advantage, Paige Kayvan cut the lead to one on a pair of free shots with under a minute to play, yet Baumann closed the game out on the ensuing possession with two more on-target free throws.
“We’ve got to find ways to get Baumann the basketball. She’s playing terrific. She just scores in so many different ways, and she’s a strong point guard and that’s where it starts,” Fairfield head coach Mick Flattery said. “She’s really stepping up like we always hope of a senior who has put in her time.”
“I’m glad she’s on my team. Let’s just say that,” the head coach added.
As good as the ending was for Fairfield, the game didn’t always seem destined for such a result.
The Trojans led 9-5 at the end of the first quarter, but a 8-0 run by Keokuk to open the second placed Fairfield in a 13-9 hole. Fairfield’s struggles on offense continued all the way through the period, as they entered the locker room down 22-13.
The third quarter started out much better for the Trojans, who opened the half on a 6-2 run. Fairfield cut Keokuk’s lead to 29-23, and Repp scored four straight points in the quarter’s closing minute to pull Fairfield within two.
“Just kind of a spark came in that third quarter. We got it back to two points and just got ourselves right back in it,” Baumann said.
The momentum carried Fairfield the rest of the way.
Flattery contributed the second half comeback to toughness and defense.
“It was a game of toughness right there. They were down 22-13 at the half and had two of our leading scorers [Baumann and Greiner] in foul trouble, and the other girls stepped up and kept it close,” Flattery said. “It looked like ‘here we go again,’ early on, but then in the second half everything was kicking in. When they believed in themselves, they knew they could get right back in the game as long as they kept everyone out of foul trouble.”
Another reason for the second half turnaround was free throw shooting. In the first half, Keokuk went 9 of 11 from the line compared to 1 of 1 shooting for Fairfield. After halftime, Fairfield made 11 of 14 shots from the charity stripe.
In addition to Baumann’s 19 points and six rebounds, Greiner turned in a double-double with 11 rebounds, 10 points and four steals. Repp scored nine points with three assists, Brittany Kurtz provided four points and six boards, and Miranda Metcalf pulled down eight rebounds.
“The staff here is very happy for the gals because they work very hard,” said Flattery. “They took that energy that they had Monday and now turned it into really good energy and productive energy for the victory.”
Another important SEC matchup will be tonight with Fairfield making the short trip north to Washington. A win for Fairfield — a strong possibility after Fairfield’s five-point loss in the two teams’ last meeting — would make waves in the conference standings.
“We can’t go to Washington now and live on this,” Flattery added. “We can’t go up to Washington and think we can’t win just because we had a game [tonight] and they didn’t. Go play, you can beat these guys.”
Opening tip-off for the girls’ game is set for 6 p.m.
Fairfield vs. Keokuk
KEOKUK — 5 17 7 12 — 41
FAIRFIELD — 9 4 14 17 — 44
FAIRFIELD — Baumann 6 7-9 19, Greiner 2 4-4 10, Repp 4 1-2 9, Kurtz 2 0-0 4, Metcalf 1 0-0 2, Ledger 1 0-0 2, Totals 16 12-15 44
3-point goals — none. Rebounds — Greiner 11, Metcalf 8. Assists — Repp 3. Steals — Greiner 4.