The Fairfield University men’s basketball team kicked off their 2019-20 season on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. against the Bucknell University Bison (21-12 2018-19). With a score of 68-64, the Stags fell to Bucknell, which is not what they needed coming off a 9-22 overall record during the 2018-19 season.
New head coach Jay Young is ready for the tough schedule that the team faces this year, but was hoping to start the season off with a win. Young has been enthusiastic about his first season with Fairfield since he accepted the job in April of 2019, which he expressed to fairfieldstags.com. Spending his summer and fall months gearing up for the season, Young also has been impressed by the team’s effort in the offseason.
He believes the team knows what they need to accomplish this season and what they need to prove and knows that they are ready for the rest of the season, even if their first game did not embrace this. The players are not the only ones excited for Young’s first seasons. The cheerleaders, the student body and President Mark R. Nemec, Ph.D. demonstrated their support back on April 10 at a welcoming ceremony held on campus.
The entire first half, the Stags played right alongside the Bison, leading in points for the first 6.5 minutes of the game. After this, the two teams played head-to-head for the remainder of the first half going into halftime with a score of 33-33. Within the second half, play remained stagnant as each team balanced out the other’s game play. However, as the half progressed, the Bison took hold of the lead and the Stags fell behind. With 4 minutes and 26 seconds left in the game, Bucknell had a lead of 64-49.
With an arena of loud, enthusiastic fans, the Stags found the energy to make it a 64-62 game in the last 30 seconds after keeping the Bison scoreless for almost four minutes. However, after four Bucknell free throws and only one Fairfield lay up, the Stags were not able to come back to win the game.
Leading the Stags on offense were three returning starters who Young is fortunate to have a part of his squad. Junior Jesus Cruz, Landon Taliaferro ‘20 and Taj Benning ‘21 contributed to Fairfield’s offensive play with 24, 17 and 12 points respectively. Defensively, Fairfield was supported by first-year Chris Maidoh who had three blocks, junior Kevin Senghore-Peterson and grad student Vincent Eze, who recorded 5 and 4 defensive rebounds respectively. Young is excited to have fresh talent on the team, as in addition to using Maidoh as a starter in his first game of his freshman year, Young also gave significant minutes to freshman Allan Jeanne-Rose.
With 19 and 15 points respectively, the Bison were led on offense by John Meeks and Bruce Moore and on defense by Jimmy Sotos and Kahliel Spear who had 5 and 9 defensive rebounds a peice.
After Tuesday’s loss, Fairfield is now 0-1 on the season. The Stags will host the University of Massachusetts (2-0) for their second of five games at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1:00 p.m.