In a span of a little more than 24 hours, Elkridge native Sam Lewis put together the best two games of her college career. And, in the process, the Fairfield guard rewrote the school’s record books.
Lewis started her weekend with what at the time was a career-high with 21 points while leading the Stags to a road win over Siena on Friday. The total was seven points better than her previous career-best effort against LIU Brooklyn in 2018.
But that turned out to be just the appetizer for the 2017 Howard High grad. Lewis, a graduate senior, took things to a different level the following night against those same Saints by exploding for a program-record 39 points with 11 made 3-pointers in a 76-44 victory.
She said it was a couple made layups in the first five minutes that helped her settle in. Once she hit her first 3-pointer with 3:41 left in the first quarter, the floodgates opened.
“Seeing that first shot go in early — whether it’s a layup, jumper or three, it doesn’t matter — has always been something that has given me confidence. So yeah, I felt good in that first quarter and then I hit a couple threes and I started thinking ‘OK, here we go,’ ” Lewis said, noting that the most threes she had hit in a game before Saturday was seven in a high school game against Liberty.
“It was weird, though, because I don’t think I ever really realized what was truly happening until the game ended. It just kind of kept snowballing and my teammates kept getting me the ball in good spots. I was in a rhythm, I felt comfortable and I guess I just tried my best to keep it going.”
Making the feat even more impressive was the efficiency in which Lewis accomplished it. She shot 14-of-17 from the floor and 11-of-13 from 3-point range. During one stretch between the end of the first quarter and middle of the fourth, she made nine threes without a miss.
The 11 threes are the most by any women’s basketball player in Division I so far this season and sets a new Metro Atlantic Athletics Conference record for 3-pointers in a conference game.
For the two-game set over the weekend, Lewis made a combined 16 threes — equaling the most total triples she had hit in any of her first three collegiate seasons at Fairfield.
“I’m really proud of her,” Fairfield coach Joe Frager said after the game, according to a news release. “She has been a big part of our program in a variety of different roles for us and she stayed the course. She has been a program kid and it says a lot about perseverance and what we try to do as a program. She’s always been a well-liked member of our team and I’m extremely happy for the success she enjoyed this weekend.”
In her first three seasons at Fairfield, Lewis had played in at least 24 games each year. However, she primarily came off the bench and entered the winter never having averaged more than 2.8 points over the course of a single season.
Now firmly entrenched in the Stags’ starting lineup, she’s embracing an entirely different role. Through four games, Lewis is currently averaging a team-best 17.9 points per game for the 3-1 Stags.
“It’s definitely been an interesting four years, a lot of ups and downs. But throughout my time here, I’ve always done my best to play my role whatever it was supposed to be,” she said. “This year, my number was called and I just made sure I was ready. And I think that’s what makes it exciting, how much I know I had to work for it.”
During her days at Howard, Lewis was a four-year varsity player who led the Lions to three Howard County championships and was regarded as one of the area’s best sharpshooters.
She was named first team All-County as a junior while making a county-best 71 threes and averaging 14.3 points per game. Then as a senior, while battling through a knee injury, she averaged 10.9 points a game and made 46 threes on the way to second-team honors.
Lewis said she still regularly keeps in touch with her former teammates and coaches.
“I’m in contact with the majority of the [Howard] players that were there when I was and I still talk and text with the coaches,” Lewis said. “Actually, this summer I was back home in Elkridge because of the pandemic and I worked out with a lot of my old teammates … like Camille [Malagar], Marissa [Sanchez-Henry], Courtney [Furr], Anii [Harris] and Emily [Durkee].”
Lewis noted that her time preparing this offseason is a major reason she has been able to hit the ground running and that she is doing her best to embrace the unique challenges that this season is presenting.
“There is no doubt that this is a crazy season with so many things changing, and I think one of the most interesting things are these Friday and Saturday back-to-back games,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how I felt about it when I first saw it, but after this weekend I would definitely say it worked in my favor. I was able to get comfortable with the court and the rims on Friday, build up some confidence, and then didn’t have to wait a few days or anything to have it carry over.”
Fairfield returns to action for back-to-back home games against Marist (3-0) on Friday and Saturday.