The 2020 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships are approaching rapidly for the Fairfield University men’s basketball team (11-18, 7-10 MAAC) who are currently seeded in ninth for the conference. The championships are slated to begin on Tuesday, March 10 and wrap up on Saturday, March 14 in Atlantic City, NJ. The Stags only have two more games left in the 2020 campaign, which are both away. This week, Fairfield challenged Quinnipiac University (14-15, 9-10 MAAC) and Rider University (17-12, 11-8 MAAC) for their final games on George Bisacca Court at Alumni Hall, and failed to notch a win either day. The scores were cemented at 60-58 and 65-51 respectively.
On Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m., 2,321 members of the Fairfield community celebrated Aidas Kavaliauskas ‘20, Landon Taliaferro ‘20 and Vincent Eze ‘20 prior to their game against Rider. Kavaliauskas has amassed 219 assists and 77 steals during his 70 career appearances as a Stag. Taliaferro is one of just three players in the history of Fairfield men’s basketball to record 90 three-pointers in a single season (2018-19), and notably has had 147 three-point field goals. Eze, who joined the team as a graduate student, leads the team in rebounds with 5.7 a game. The class of 2020 left it all out on the court for the last time, as they were credited for 32 of Fairfield’s 51 total points that afternoon.
Kavaliauskas scored three points plus two assists in a span of 18 minutes. Taliaferro led the charge with 15 points when he netted five field goals, with just one made from outside the arc. Eze sunk 10 free throws and five rebounds, finishing the game with 14 points.
Right out of the gate, the Broncs asserted their dominance as they started off with a 6-0 spurt, which ended when Chris Maidoh ’23 made a fastbreak and dunked to put two on the board for Fairfield. Taj Benning ‘21 put up a pair of free throws. At 9:26 p.m., Rider widened their lead to a game-high of nine points, on the better half of a 17-8 score. Fairfield chipped away at the lead until the 20 minute half ended, leaving the score at 27-23 going into halftime.
Fairfield came back from the intermission with a tangible sense of intensity, when they commenced with an 11-4 run, earning the Stags their first lead of the game, by a single point at 30-29. Junior guard Jesus Cruz recorded 11 points, channeling four towards that burst which uncorked the second half. With 1:10 remaining, Fairfield was still fighting to overcome the 60-51 shortfall, but the Broncs weren’t done. Two fouls on Eze allowed them to take four free throw opportunities, all of which they made. The buzzer sounded, freezing the score at 65-51 and extending the Stags’ losing streak to three.
The Stags hope to turn things around on Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. against Monmouth University (17-12, 11-7 MAAC) in West Long Branch, NJ.
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