The Stags looked to pick up their fourth consecutive win at home to go 4-0 in the homestand as they hosted in-state rival the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Monday, Feb. 6. But even a double-digit advantage was not enough to hold off the Bobcats as they pulled an improbable comeback to steal a 73-71 win on the road. Quinnipiac finished the game on a 15-2 run to cut Fairfield’s lead and take home the victory. “We didn’t do our best the last six, seven minutes and in this league, anybody can beat you,” said head coach Sydney Johnson of the final minutes of the game.
Fairfield jumped out to an early advantage to start the game after an early bucket from Quinnipiac, the Stags would score nine of the next 11 points of the game as they lead 12-6 through five minutes of play. The Stags connected on four three-pointers to start the offense, three coming off Tyler Nelson ‘18 and the other from Curtis Cobb ‘19.
The first half consisted of some back-and-forth action from both teams, but Fairfield would hold the advantage for the majority of the first half, building a 10-point lead heading into halftime. The Stags finished the first half with a total of nine assists while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. For the Stags, Nelson and Cobb carried the offensive load dropping 13 and 10 points respectively.
Fairfield led by as much as 14 points to start off the second half of basketball, but Quinnipiac would slowly work their way back into the game. With less than seven minutes remaining in the ballgame, Fairfield held a 63-53 lead before the Bobcats began their run. The next six minutes would see Quinnipiac’s offense explode for 11 unanswered points to tie the game at 65 and change the momentum of the game toward the Bobcats.
Nelson stopped Quinnipiac’s scoring run following a set of free throw shots which pushed the Stags up by two, 67-65 with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Quinnipiac’s Chaise Daniels would respond with a shot in the paint to tie the game once again at 67 with time running low.
Quinnipiac’s Peter Kiss retook the lead for the Bobcats after knocking down a free throw shot but missed on the second shot. Unfortunately for the Stags, Kiss was there to secure the rebound and reclaim the possession for Quinnipiac.
Kiss was sent to the free thrown line once again, where he connected on one of two attempts giving the Bobcats the 69-67 lead. But Nelson answered right back for the Stags, when he drove the rim and connected on a layup to tie it back at 69. The next two possessions would see both Kiss and Nelson exchange layups to keep the game tied at 71.
The Bobcats held possession of the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game. Quinnipiac’s Kiss held the ball running some time off the clock, until he decided to attack the rim and drop a floater that found it’s way past a couple of Fairfield defenders to give them the late 73-71 edge with 1.9 seconds left in the game.
Fairfield had one final opportunity to either win or tie the game with limited time as they found Nelson at midcourt, who shot the ball but just missed the bottom of the net as the time expired to give Quinnipiac the win and steal one from their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foe on the road.
For the Stags, Nelson led all scorers with 29 points but it was not enough to bring the Stags a victory. Fairfield will look to bounce back on Thursday, Feb. 9 when they travel to take on MAAC rival Marist on the road. After a heartbreaking loss, Johnson emphasized the importance of preparation for his team as they take on Marist. “We’ve got to get in the gym tomorrow and however long we’re practicing we’re going very, very hard and that’s what we can control.” The Stags look to make a final playoff push as five of their last seven games will be away from Webster Bank Arena.