The Fairfield Stags started the season on the right note by taking care of cross-town rivals Sacred Heart Pioneers 85-63 in the first home game in the friendly confines of Webster Bank Arena. Sophomore Curtis Cobb lead the way for the herd, carrying the Stags offense as the guard led all scorers with a total of 26 points.
Cobb was the Stags offense for the first six minutes of the game, scoring a total of 16 points in that span and outscoring the whole Sacred Heart team 16-7. Cobb also connected on a total of seven shots from the field, including two from three-point range.
“I was comfortable,” said Cobb on his start. “I’ve been taking a lot of shots in the last two days just to get ready so I was prepared. My point guard was setting me up, so once I saw one [shot] go in, it was over from there.”
Having 13 minutes remaining in the first half of the season opener, someone other than Cobb scored for the Stags and it came from guard Tyler Nelson ‘18, as he slashed his way through defenders connecting on a layup. Just a few minutes after Nelson recorded his first points on the season, Jerome Segura ‘18 joined the club after knocking down a shot from the charity line giving the Stags its biggest lead of the game at 11.
The Pioneers battled back to cut the deficit down to six after Chris Robinson’s layup and a three-pointer from Mario Matasovic, with still a good chunk of time left in the half. However, the Stags continued to play well on both sides of the court, playing unselfishly on offense as they finished the half with nine assists and limiting the Sacred Heart offense for the remainder of the half. Fairfield held a 10-point lead at the end of the half of play, 40-30.
Cobb looked to carry the momentum from his start in the second half, but after recording his third foul of the game, the guard was forced to sit due to foul trouble as 18 minutes remained in the game. Now with Cobb out of the game, Fairfield’s other guards picked up the pieces as the they would go on an 11-0 run to extend their lead up to 17 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“I was very happy with them just because we had to play through it. Good crew tonight, but that third [foul] was tough because Curt was playing well and playing the right way. I wanted to see him continue, but we did as a team — that’s important,” said head coach Sydney Johnson on the Stags play following Cobb’s departure.
Fairfield’s offense would not let up as they found success from beyond the arc and continued to play great team defense as Sacred Heart struggled to get to the basket. The Stags would increase their lead to as high as 22 points, as Jerry Johnson Jr. ‘19 scored all of his 13 points in the second half, connecting on three shots from three-point territory.
The Stags enjoyed much success from the three as they finished with 11 compared to the Pioneers three. When asked about Fairfield’s shooting, Johnson said, “It’s what we do, we’re trying to get three-point shots for our shooters. We have our role as well to find those guys who have the green light — we want open court jump shots, we want to get up and down. It starts with our defense, but anytime our shooters have a shot and it’s wide open, let it fly.”
Fairfield’s offense was too much for the Sacred Heart defense as the Stags would close out the game by a final score 85-63. Fairfield had a total of five scorers in double digits and Cobb finished the game with a career-high 26, leading all scorers on the game. Additionally, Segura finished with 17 points and 10 assists for a double-double. Johnson Jr. contributed 13 points to the game while Nelson and Matija Milin ‘19 scored 12 and 11, respectively.
“It’s one better than what we’re trying to do,” said Johnson on his balanced offense. “We’re trying to get four guys in double figures as often as possible and we got five in there. We’ll take it.”
“It’s pretty big. We’re trying to an end a 20-year drought, so just starting off on a win gives us good confidence heading into our next game,” said Cobb on the win. The Stags will be back on the court when they travel to take on Wagner on Nov. 19.