The sophomores excelled in the contest. Maurice Barrow had a breakout game with a strong team-leading 18-point performance, while Keith Matthews contributed 15 points off the bench.
There was no lack of scoring for either team in the first half, but the Stags came out of halftime with a strong defensive game plan.
“It was a shoot out in the first half but we settled down on defense after halftime and just played hard,” said Matthews.
The Stags were very fluid on offense and had great ball movement against the Jaspers with a team total of 22 assists. Fairfield’s defense was also impressive as they compiled 14 steals, forcing Manhattan to turn the ball over 19 times.
“Start to finish I think the energy was fantastic. These guys have been playing hard together for awhile and we just had to keep that in mind,” said Stags coach Sydney Johnson.
Senior forward Rakim Sanders did a great job of sharing the ball and finding the open man as he had a team-leading seven assists against the familiar MAAC opponent.
“We’ve been digging deep and sticking together. This is a game we love and we have plenty of people who are hungry and ready to step up,” said Sanders.
Home court was a great advantage for the Stags at the on-campus site of Alumni Hall, which held a jam-packed and passionate crowd. Fairfield had an 8-2 run in the middle of the second half using swarming defense and capitalizing with fast break offense.
“I definitely think the guys fed off the energy. You have to build momentum and I think home court played a big role in that today for us,” said Coach Johnson.
Although the Stags are short-handed and depleted with injuries in the back court, they are gelling at the right time as they continue to advance in the CIT Tournament. Fairfield will once again play at Alumni Hall Wednesday night against Robert Morris at 7 p.m.
The Colonials advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to a 69-51 victory against Toledo.
Johnson recognizes the importance of advancing in this post season.
“I’m thrilled to have to put on the caretaker role it’s been a great honor,” he said. “Ed Cooley did a great job putting together this program, I’m proud of our guys and for Fairfield.”