The Fairfield University men’s basketball team fell to fellow Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team Iona College on Sunday, Feb. 9 by a score of 78-54. This weekend’s game would be the final one played at Webster Bank Arena, looking ahead to the team’s final four home games which are all scheduled to be under the roof of Alumni Hall. Fairfield’s overall record is now 9-14, while their conference record worsened to 5-7. Iona’s overall record currently sits at 7-12, and their conference record now matches that of Fairfield’s at 5-7.
Going into the contest against Iona, Fairfield was in the MAAC first for overall scoring defense, allowing only 63.3 points per game, and also the top team in the conference for scoring defense in MAAC games, yielding 62.2 points per game. Since, they have dropped overall to 64.0 points per game overall, and 69.9 points per game in MAAC games.
Junior Taj Benning led his team in scoring with 16 points, while graduate student Vincent Eze contributed 14. Eze also set the tempo for his team in rebounds, with seven to the game.
Less than 30 seconds into the game, Eze put two points up for Fairfield. Then, Landon Taliaferro ‘20 snatched the rebound off of a missed shot by Iona, and sunk a three-pointer. The five-point lead would be the largest lead that Fairfield would have all game. Iona caught up quickly, and with three minutes and twenty seconds on the board, Tajuan Agee tied the score at five, which marked the beginning of a momentum that Iona would ride on the entire game. A foul by Niksa Nikolic with 43 seconds left in the first warranted two free throws by Chris Maidoh ‘23, who took advantage of the opportunity and netted both. Maidoh’s scoring efforts would be the last of the period, and after the first half, Iona only held a seven point advantage over the Stags, keeping them at an unsafe distance. Halftime commenced with the score in Iona’s favor, 38-31.
During the beginning of the second half, the Stags were able to keep Iona’s edge within reason, managing their shortcomings to be within a ten-point negative for about 12 minutes. The slack to be made up was doable for Fairfield until Iona went on a 17-3 run over seven minutes, increasing Iona’s lead to 18 points. Iona’s scored 12 points off of Fairfield’s turnovers in the second half, and is indicative of the home-team’s struggle.
Fairfield will have the home-court advantage for four of their next six games, but before the four-game homestand they must first take on Marist College (6-15, 5-7 MAAC) and St. Peter’s University (11-11, 8-5 MAAC) at their respective facilities. The Stags are currently in ninth place of the 11 teams in the conference. The next game is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Poughkeepsie, NY against the Marist Red Foxes.
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