Before the men’s basketball regular season kicked off, Coach Johnson admitted that there will be times when his team will face adversary and there will be a test to see how his players respond.

Well, the Stags certainly faced some adversary Friday night at Mohegan Sun, but prevailed when it counted to beat Quinnipiac 72-60.

Despite the fact that the Stags never trailed in the contest and at one moment had a 15-point lead, the Bobcats dominated the offensive glass with their team total 19 offensive rebounds compared to the Stags 9. Fairfield seemed to take their foot off the pedal during the second half as the feisty Quinnipiac squad outhustled the Stags with their 22 second-chance points.

But when Derek Needham and Rakim Sanders returned to the floor in the late stages of the game, the Stags three point lead turned into double digits as both players came through in the clutch.

While the presence of Needham and Sanders was certainly missed in the second half due to foul trouble, forward Maurice Barrow provided a great performance with a career-high 19 points and logged a team-high 37 minutes.

The depth of the Stags was showcased again as Fairfield had four players in double figures, while Fairfield also shot an impressive 53% from three-point range.

Although the rebounding, foul shooting, and at some points lackadaisical play against a Quinnipiac team are concerns, the Stags performed well at the necessary times in what was an extremely chaotic game due to the questionable refereeing.

Fairfield now looks ahead to the game that has been highlighted on the schedule for quite some time; the Providence Friars and former Coach Cooley returning to Fairfield.

The atmosphere at the Arena at Harbor Yard should be electric Monday night and Fairfield will begin its stretch against high-caliber non-conference teams.

When Coach Cooley was asked about his feelings regarding his return, he answered promptly.

“It’s another game on the schedule. I’ll always love the kids I coached and Fairfield, but we’re going there to get a win,” said Cooley.

And if the Stags are going to have anything to say about that, they will have to learn from the positives and negatives from their first regular season game in order to be prepared for this marquee match-up against Big East competition.

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