Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pina Production at Point Lifts Stags to Success

It was only ironic that Fairfield senior guard Desiree Pina scored nine of her 14 points down the stretch of the Fairfield women's 63-48 victory over Siena, those points coming after Siena had pulled to within three points with about seven minutes remaining.

Ironic since Pina very nearly went to Siena.

As is the case with mid-major level talent in the east, players of Pina's abilities traditionally hear from multiple MAAC schools.

Pina got some interest from the Saints, but got more attention from Fairfield.

They (Fairfield) got involved with me earlier and when they brought me in for a visit, I really loved it there," said Pina. "I'm glad how things worked out."

They worked out well on the court in Saturday's semifinal-round contest as Pina not only hit big shots, but handled the ball well enough to commit just two turnovers in the contest.

That, too, is a bit of an upset since Pina was a scorer in high school, and Fairfield brought her in as an off-guard even when some potential suitors thought her 5-foot-6 stature made her a little too short to play that position on the Division I level.

Pina, though, had some success in that role as a freshman and, then, was asked by head coach Joe Frager to move over to the point guard spot and found it to not exactly be an easy transition. And, while learning the position her shooting suffered. She shot under 30 percent from the floor last season.

This year, though, her jump shot retured and she connected on 38.3 percent of her floor shots and 36.6 percent from three-point range.

:I took a break on my body a little bit and it helped tremendously," she said. "And, I worked on my shot. It was a tough transition to move over to the point, but coach Frager really helped me a lot through the whole thing.

"He was terrific and, coach Frager and me became like a team."

And, in the process Fairfield became a better team.

One good enough, on Saturday, to survive the loss of its first-team all-conference pick Taryn Johnson to foul troubles for most of the second half of its victory over Siena.

And, Siena coach Gina Castelli, who tried to recruit Pina before the decision was made to attend Fairfield, recognized that.

"Johnson is an important player for them, but Desiree Pina IS their player," said Castelli. "She's the one we'd have wanted to get into foul trouble."

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