Despite a 66-64 loss, the home crowd was roaring on Sunday afternoon as the Fairfield University men’s basketball team took on the number one ranked team in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Quinnipiac. 

Going into the game, The Stags were 12-8 coming off a three-game winning streak, but they had a tough task ahead of them taking on Quinnipiac, the top team in the conference. 

Graduate Student Caleb Fields and Jalen Leach ‘24 led the team with 18 points each with both of their performances including highlight-worthy plays. 

Garrett Nelson ‘24, student manager of the men’s basketball team, believed Fields “found a way to get hardpoints including multiple ‘and-one’ opportunities.” 

Fields hit two three-point shots and Leach threw down an impressive dunk over a Quinnipiac defender with less than four minutes to go in the second half. 

Nelson also believed this play “was a huge momentum shift.” 

At halftime, the Stags had a 33-32 lead over the Bobcats shooting 25% from the three-point line and 50% on free throws. 

There were moments throughout the second half where the Bobcats were looking like they were going to take over the game, including going up 43-36 at the start of the second half and going up 55-48 with seven minutes to go in the game, but the Stags stayed resilient to keep themselves in the game. 

With less than two minutes to go in the game, a 62-62 game had the home crowd get loud and on their feet. 

“The team always plays better when the crowd shows up,” Nelson says. “They always feel extremely energized to play at their best level when the home crowd is behind them. It really helps when they are on defense, it causes the opponent a lot of confusion when they can’t hear their plays.” 

The entire arena knew that this game was going to come down to the final seconds.

The Stags were able to take the lead with just over a minute to go, but two unanswered Bobcat layups made by Matt Balanc, including a possession where they managed to take over 20 seconds off the clock, iced the game. 

Although there are no moral victories in sports, Nelson says that “the team felt good about the performance. The game came down to the final possession and we nearly beat them.” The Stags finished the game shooting 19.2% three-pointers, 68.4% on free throws, and committing six fewer turnovers than the Bobcats. 

The team looks to get back on track this next week with a game on the road against Iona this Friday, Feb. 2 and a game in front of the home crowd again on Sunday, Feb. 4 against Manhattan. 

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