The beginning of the 2019-20 college basketball season has not been kind to the Fairfield University Stags Men’s Basketball team (2-7, 0-0). As per tradition, the Stags traveled to another pre-conference play early season tournament. This time, they traveled to Orlando, Fla. They started off the Orlando Invitational against the University of Southern California Trojans (8-2) on Thursday, Nov. 28, losing a close matchup with a final score of 54-47.
Fairfield guard Landon Taliaferro ‘20 led the Stags with 16 points on 5-10 shooting. Fairfield struggled offensively, only shooting 27 percent from the floor a 35 percent from three.
In the second game of the Orlando Invitational, Fairfield fell to the Davidson University Wildcats (4-5, 0-0), 67-56. The Fairfield offense continued its early season struggles, only getting up to 19 points at halftime, opening a 16 point halftime shortfall.
The offense started to catch fire in the second half, erasing that once large deficit down to a single possession basketball game with three minutes and 45 seconds left in the second half.
Only Taliaferro and Jesus Cruz ‘21 were able to crack double-digit point totals, leading the team with 10 points each.
Coach Young commended his team’s resiliency after the Davidson loss. “We fought and played hard tonight. They are a high level offensive team and you have to be on your toes defensively against them. I thought we covered a lot of what they wanted to do so I was happy about that. But there are no moral victories so we need to get ready to play a tough Texas A&M team on Sunday.”
Fairfield than rounded out the Orlando Invitational with an upset 67-62 win over the Texas A&M Aggies (3-5, 0-0), of the Southeastern Conference. The Stags were led by a career game from Taliaferro, setting the school record with 10 made threes, as he poured in a career high 34 points.
Landon focused his praise onto the group of guys, stating, “Coach came into film yesterday and said that we were not leaving Florida without a win. So we just came together and everyone played their role to the best of their ability and we came away with a win.”
In Fairfield’s first game back from sunny Orlando, Fla., they fell in another close game to the William and Mary University Tribe (7-3, 0-0).
Graduate student Vincent Eze led the scoring for the Stags with 13 points. Coach Young heaped praise on the William and Mary duo of Nathan Knight and Andy Van Vilet.
He said, “We were trying to contain their front court but we didn’t do that tonight for sure because they (Nathan Knight and Andy Van Vliet) scored 41 of their 62 points. We had a few chances down the stretch but our offensive possessions were not good enough when we needed points. Give credit to William & Mary because their two big guys who have done it all year did it again.”
Fairfield has lost seven of its first nine games, but in six of those losses, Fairfield has not lost by a margin larger than 11.
Fairfield’s next game will be on the road against the Oakland University Grizzlies (5-5, 0-0) on Saturday, Dec. 2.
Fairfield will start conference play soon after the new year, heading up to western New York to take on the Niagara University Purple Eagles (2-5, 0-0) on Friday, Jan. 3, and than the Canisius University Golden Griffiths (4-4, 0-0) on Sunday, Jan. 5.