The Fairfield University men’s basketball team played host to the University of New Hampshire at Leo D. Mahoney Arena on Friday, Nov. 24. Despite partaking in a competitive battle, the Stags fell a tad bit short, falling to the Wildcats, 83-80.
It was a close contest throughout the course of the contest, as the two teams were separated by two points heading into the first half, 37-35. Fairfield fell further behind at the start of the second half, as they trailed by as many as 14 points at one point. Fairfield managed to erase this deficit by taking their first lead of the game with 2:23 to go before a back-and-forth showdown over the last 153 seconds of play ended up in New Hampshire’s favor. During this time frame, the two teams traded leads three times, a nailbiter that ended at the final buzzer.
Lamenting the loss, Interim Head Coach Chris Casey was impressed with his squad’s resiliency after overcoming a huge deficit.
“First of all, I think if you’re a college basketball fan, you loved that game today. But unfortunately, we came up on the short end of it,” Casey says, according to the game’s official press release. “But I love our resiliency; I love our fight. And I truly believe that when we get our whole group together and healthy, that we can be a very good basketball team.”
Leading the Stags on offense on Friday was guard Jalen Leach ‘24, who netted 25 points. Leach’s 25 points came from shooting 10-16 from the field, which included one three-pointed and shooting 4-for-5 from the free throw line. Leach was helped out by fellow guard Jasper Floyd ‘25, as the Tampa, Fla. native clocked out with 23 points while playing tremendous defense with six steals. Floyd’s six steals were the most by a Stag in 11 years, when Colin Nickerson ‘13 committed six steals in a game at Milwaukee University on Feb. 18, 2012. The backcourt duo accounted for 48 of the unit’s 80 points on the day.
Senior forward Jack Brown helped Leach and Floyd, who had a career day off the bench. The Greenville, Del. native registered seven points while securing six rebounds. Guard James Johns’ Jr. ‘26, Forward Peyton Smith ‘27 and Louis Bleechmore ‘24, added 11, eight and six points respectively on the day. Bleechmore also put down a team-leading seven rebounds in the process.
Overall, Fairfield accounted for a 32-for-70 (45.7%) shooting performance from the field, as well as a 4-for-20 (20%) shooting performance from three-point range, as well as a 12-for-15 (80%) performance from the free-throw line. The Stags will enter conference regular season play with a 1-5 record. They will commence Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play with a date against Iona College this Friday, Dec. 1 at Leo D. Mahoney Arena. Tip-off will take place at 7 p.m. For more information about the Fairfield University men’s basketball team, please visit www.fairfieldstags.com.