After Saturday night’s ugly loss to Manhattan, Fairfield was looking to bounce back with a win against Canisius, before heading into a 17 game winter break.

They were playing as terrible, if not worse than they had against Manhattan. However, the Stags were able to clinch the victory 75-64 at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport in front of a small crowd.

With eight minutes left in the first half, it appeared that the Stags were in for another tough loss.

Over the first 12 minutes Fairfield scored only ten points, going 4-10 from the floor and turning the ball over 11 times. After a steal and a slam dunk by Canisius’ Darnell Wilson, off an alley oop pass from Frank Turner, Canisius had jumped out to a 15 point.

But the Stags battled back with a 17-2 run to end the first half and a 11-0 run during the second half to take their first lead since the first minutes of the game.

The student section was almost non existent, with about 8 students and Head Coach Ed Cooley’s nine year old son, Isiah, leading the cheers.

Cooley was pleased with the energy that the Stags showed, especially after how poorly they played on Friday night. He felt that the seniors helped lead the team to victory.

The three seniors, Michael Van Schaick, Danny Oglesby, and Marty O’Sullivan all played key roles in the Stags comeback. All three finished in double digits, as Van Schaick led the team with 20 points, Oglesby finished with 12, and O’Sullivan added 10.

“We got unbelievable senior leadership. I told our seniors during halftime, before the game, that we need them. They have been around and through the league and they know it more than I do,” Cooley said, “They did a great job today and I am very proud of them.”

The first half started like the Manhattan game for the Stags, who looked tired and sloppy. After neither team could take control for the first five minutes, a thunderous slam dunk by Darnell Wilson over Devin Johnson `10, gave Canisius a 6-4 lead. Johnson would leave the game and not return. Canisius would then take off on a 14-1 run, to take a 14-5 lead.

Cooley said after the game that he did not know Johnson’s status, but that “he is going to have an x-ray on it tomorrow.”

It looked like the Stags were in for a rough game again, when Chuck Harris caught an alley oop with 8:32 left in the half and slammed it down to give Canisius a 24-9 lead. Cooley called a time out, and after it a Van Schaick jump shot cut the lead to 24-11.

But, the Golden Griffins came right back with a three pointer by Frank Turner, who finished the half with eight points.

Then the tide turned quickly for the Stags, as senior forward Marty O’Sullivan knocked down a three pointer to answer right back, with five minutes left in the half.

Fairfield needed a big play to energize the team following O’Sullivan’s three, and freshman forward Anthony Johnson, who had a team high 8 points in the half, gave them just that, throwing down a powerful slam dunk off of an alley oop from Jonathan Han `09, cutting the lead to eight points.

Van Schaick found himself wide open on the next trip down, following a Mamadou Diakhate `08 steal, after his defender fell down, and he hit a three pointer to bring the Stags within five.

“We had great energy from Mamadou coming off the bench and Anthony Johnson had a couple huge plays,” Van Schaick said, “I think all it takes is a couple energy plays and once that happens we get on a roll and from there on it just accumulates and we play off of one another.”

Back to back steals by Oglesby and Van Schaick, led to five more points, as Oglesby hit a three pointer and Han laid the ball in on a fast break, ending a 14-2 run. The Stags entered the half down only three, when ten minutes earlier it looked like they were about to fall down by 20.

The Stags continued to claw back into the game, but Canisius would not back down. Fairfield jumped out to a 42-39 lead before four straight points from Anthony Johnson brought the Stags to their first lead since they lead 4-2.

Johnson, who had a career-high 16 points, slammed down a second alley oop, this one from O’Sullivan and then made two free throws to give Fairfield a 43-42 lead.

Fairfield pulled way from that point, as Canisius appeared to be too tired to keep up with the Stags. Led by two three pointers from both Oglesby and Van Schaick, the Stags took a 13 point lead with seven minutes to go in the game. The Stags held onto the lead and never allowed Canisius to get within seven points.

Oglesby felt that the offense flowed better than they have for most of the season.

“I think we ran the offense well. On a few plays we ran it just like we do in practice, people were wide open,” Oglesby said, “It was good execution that helped us win.”

Anthony Johnson felt that the team’s unwillingness to lose led them to victory, saying, “we all had the mentality that we were not going to lose.”

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