Thomas Shea/ The Mirror

Men’s Basketball

In the first round of the MAAC Tournament, the no. 10 Fairfield men’s basketball team lost to the no. 7 St. Peter’s Peacocks on a game-winning three-point shot from Desi Washington ’15 in overtime. Washington hit the shot with just 1.4 seconds left on the clock to preserve the Peacocks a 65-62 victory and a spot in the next round of the tournament.

On the last possession, Marcus Gilbert ’16, Stevie Johnston ’15 and K.J. Rose ’17 all rose up to defend the shot in Washington’s hands. He managed to get the shot off above all of their hands and hit the very deep shot. Thus ended the Stags’ hopes of a tournament shot as well as the Fairfield career for Maurice Barrow ‘14, the sole senior on the team.

“It’s especially hard for Mo,” said Coach Sydney Johnson. “He’s an outstanding young man who has been willing us many times throughout the season.”

“I give it up to my teammates because we’ve been in a lot of close games,” said Barrow. “I owe it to my parents because they helped make me who I am.”

IMG_9266Fairfield struggled with fouls all throughout the night and it showed early on in the game. After the Stags got off to an early 7-3 lead, the Peacocks fought back on a 9-0 run, using Fairfield’s fouls to their advantage. Just seven minutes into the game, the Stags had already committed five fouls and were losing at a score of 12-10.

From this point on until the end of the first half, both teams exchanged baskets while also accumulating fouls. One blunder in Fairfield’s game was the amount of three-pointers that they shot and missed. In the first half, the Stags were 28.6 percent from beyond the arc and shot just 29.4 percent from there for the whole game.

This led to the Stags exploring the paint much more throughout the game, according to Johnson.

“Attacking the basket some more would have produced more buckets. That being said, we had some clear looks at the rim to get it done,” said Johnson.

Another problem for the Stags throughout this contest was rebounding. They were out-rebounded by the Peacocks 42-26. St. Peter’s was able to haul in 15 offensive rebounds and score 19 second-chance points, while Fairfield had just four offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points.

At the end of the first half, the game was tied at a score of 30-30 thanks to a three-pointer at the buzzer. To begin the second half, both teams exchanged baskets for a while again. The Stags quickly found themselves in foul trouble as they were in the bonus about halfway through the period.

With just two minutes remaining in regulation, Fairfield was leading at a score of 56-55. Both Washington and Marvin Dominique ’15 hit shots and free throws to keep the Peacocks in the game. Then, with just thirty seconds left, Dominique hit a free throw to tie the game at 58-58. After two timeouts, Gilbert had a layup attempt that bounced off the side of the rim and fell to the floor as the buzzer rang.

“I want to tip my hat to Fairfield because they are a very difficult team to play against,” said St. Peter’s Head Coach John Dunne. “They’re very good defensively and take you out of everything you want to do.”

So, the game went into overtime. The first basket in this period was scored by Barrow to give the Stags a 60-58 lead. Later baskets by Quadir Welton ’17 and Kris Rolle ’15 gave the Peacocks a 62-60 lead. With just six seconds left, Barrow then connected on a putback lay-up to tie the game.

At this point, the unthinkable happened. Washington took the ball upcourt quickly and elevated over three Fairfield defenders from well beyond the three-point line. To the amazement of many spectators, he hit the shot with just a second and change to spare. For the third time this season, Washington hit a game-winning shot in the last seconds of a game against Fairfield.

“There’s a little luck on our side,” said Washington about hitting three game-winning shots against Fairfield. “It all happened so fast. Whenever we give ourselves a chance to win like that, we always feel that we can win the game.”

This shot ultimately put an end to the Fairfield men’s basketball season that had been not as successful as they wanted it to be.

The Stags have many young players for future seasons, though. Johnson thinks that these athletes will propel the team to victory in seasons to come.

“The future is bright because I can tell these guys to be like him [Mo]. He’s a huge part of our future even though we won’t see him in a uniform again,” said Johnson. “He empowers me to push these guys hard because that’s what I did to him and he answered the call every time.”

Women’s Basketball

The Fairfield women’s basketball team was defeated by the Rider Broncs in the MAAC Tournament this Friday at a score of 63-57. Though the Stags controlled the game in the first half, the tides quickly turned as the Broncs relied on their shooting to give them an advantage in the second period.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in and we’re obviously disappointed,” said Coach Joe Frager after the loss. “I’m very proud of this team. These kids have worked so hard to put themselves in the position that they were in tonight.”

Senior Katie Cizynski led the team in scoring with 15 points while Felicia DaCruz ’15 had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. For Rider, MyNeshia McKenzie led the team with 28 points and 16 rebounds. However, it was Rider’s Stephanie Mason who gave the Broncs the edge with her elite three-point shooting in the second half.

“That was a five- to six-minute stretch where we didn’t perform up to where we wanted to,” said Coach Frager. “We lost [Mason] a couple of times in the zone defense and that’s on us. Due to our foul situation, we were forced into that defense.”

IMG_9660Mason made four three-pointers in a span of four minutes to give her team their first lead of the second half. As that half progressed, the Stags were having trouble making baskets and found themselves falling behind in the game.

Throughout most of the game, Coach Frager left his five starters out on the court and they scored the vast majority of Fairfield’s baskets. Freshman Kristine Miller scored the team’s lone bench point on a free throw. Fairfield was outscored by Rider in bench points at 20-1. One of Rider’s biggest bench scorers, Mason, made all the difference in this game with her 14 points that helped decide the game.

Another big factor that kept the Stags out of this contest was Cizynski’s foul trouble early on in the game. Though Fairfield had a 28-24 lead at halftime, she was only able to score two of their points as she sat with two early fouls.

“It’s always hard to sit on the sidelines and it’s obviously not a position I wanted to be in,” said Cizynski. “For the first half, we only had them by four. It would have been nice to go into halftime a little more ahead.”

To start off the game, Fairfield had a nice 11-0 run to give themselves an early lead. However, Rider slowly fought back into the contest. McKenzie was a force in the paint in this half as she finished it with 17 points and five rebounds. The Stags had a difficult time guarding her, but did a nice job of forcing the Broncs to shoot just 30.8 percent from the floor for that period.

To open up the second half, the Stags looked strong as they got off to a 5-0 run in the first few minutes. At this point, Cizynski was playing and putting up points to show for it. Shortly into the period, she had 10 second-half points and helped to extend the lead Fairfield had at halftime.

“I don’t think there was any strategy change offensively. One of the reasons we build that lead up was because we were able to go inside to Katie,” said Coach Frager. “Then, teams make adjustments. When they start to send a second defender, they made it harder for us to get the ball in.”

With about 11 minutes left to go in the game, Fairfield had a comfortable lead over Rider at a score of 41-32. Shortly after, freshman Mason began to hit her shots. In a matter of just four minutes, she managed to connect on four three-pointer shots and eventually gave her team the lead.

Trailing at 54-50 with just 1:18 to play, Fairfield resorted to fouling to try and stop the deficit. However, the Rider Broncs managed to go 12-14 from the free throw line in the second half and maintain their lead. With the score at 63-57, the Stags tried to make some shots as the final seconds dwindled down, but to no avail. They saw their time at the MAAC Tournament come to an end at the hands of the Rider Broncs.

“There’s a lot thrown into a four-day period of time,” said Frager about the tournament. “But it’s hard to be good over three months and this team was very good over three months and exceeded our expectations.”

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