The Stags picked up their second consecutive victory on Tuesday, Jan. 31 as they dominated the Manhattan Jaspers for a final score of  78-49. For the Stags, defense was the key to victory as they limited the Jaspers to just 25 percent shooting from the field.

Fairfield was led on offense by both Curtis Cobb ‘19 and Tyler Nelson ‘18 who combined for 42 of Fairfield’s 78 points. “We’re much better when they’re clicking. The ball is going to find them and they’re taking quality shots, they need to share it when they draw two but when they’re wide open we certainly want them to let it fly,” said head coach Sydney Johnson following the win on the duo of Cobb and Nelson.

The Stags jumped out in front early as they played well on both sides of the court. Through five minutes of play, the Stags had themselves a 12-point advantage while limiting the Jaspers to just four points to start the game. “We said we need to pick up where we left off against Marist in the second half where I thought we were really locked in. The first four minutes tonight, I thought defensively, we were outstanding and we just build on that from four-minute stretch to four-minute stretch,” said Johnson on the emphasis on defense early in the game.

Last time the Stags competed against the Jaspers, Cobb had himself a night to remember as he finished with a school record 46-point performance. It seemed like déjà vu all over again as Cobb jumped out to a hot start on offense, scoring 16 of Fairfield’s first 21 points in the game, leading the Stags to a 21-10 lead.

Junior Tyler Nelson scored 20 points to go along with four assists to go along with four assists in another stellar performance. Alfredo Torres/The Mirror

Manhattan would battle back to cut the lead down to nine on two separate occasions but the duo of Nelson and Deniz Celen ‘20 carried the Stags to a halftime lead. In the final seven minutes of the first half, Nelson dropped 11 points shooting a perfect 4-4 from three-point territory while Celen added seven points off the bench. Fairfield went into the half with a comfortable 43-21 lead as Cobb lead all scorers with a total of 18 in the half.

The second half of basketball was all Fairfield as they continued to excel on both ends of the court. Through 10 minutes of play in the second half of the contest, the Stags built a 30-point lead. The Stags not only executed on offense, but most importantly on defense, limiting the Jaspers to 19.2 percent shooting for the rest of the game. Fairfield would build its largest lead of the game at 33 points on two separate occasions in the second half. The Jaspers’ struggle would continue as the Stags dominated the rest of the way, finishing the game by a final score of 78-49.

The Stags finished with a game high 19 assists compared to Manhattan’s lone four. When asked about the team’s ball movement, Johnson said, “I was just happy that the guys are embracing sharing the ball. We have to do that to take really good shots.”

Although Cobb and Nelson enjoyed great performances, dropping 22 and 20 respectively, it was another Stag who really made their mark on the game. Celen finished the game with a near double-double, finishing with a total of nine points along with nine rebounds. “[I’m] really proud of him because I know how skilled he is offensively. But defensively [he had] nine rebounds, good ball screen defense, good post defense; just outstanding effort from him defensively,” said Johnson of Celen’s contributions.

When asked about the Stags current two-game winning streak, Cobb said, “it just means we’ve got to keep moving, we’ve got a couple of tough games coming up and just going into these tough games off a win is better than a loss, as we have the momentum going our way.”

With two games remaining in this homestand, the Stags looks to carry the momentum. When asked how to prepare for their upcoming game Cobb said, “the same way we’ve been preparing, focusing on defense, knowing the scouting, knowing other player’s tendencies and just do what we do on offense and don’t let the other team dictate what we do.”

The Stags will be back in action to defend home court as they host conference foe, the Niagara Purple Eagles on Thursday, Feb. 2 at Webster Bank Arena.

Freshman Deniz Celen had a breakout performance in which he tallied nine points and nine rebounds. Alfredo Torres/The Mirror

 

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