The Fairfield University men’s basketball team had a successful pair of games against Rider and Saint Peter’s this past week. In a year marked with mostly highs and a few unfortunate lows, the Stags have been proving their place at the top of the table and reminding Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foes that they are a threat. With these wins, the Stags stand at 15-9 overall and move to 9-4 in the MAAC. 

In the Stags’ Thursday night matchup against Rider University’s Broncs, a halftime trail led to an electric second half performance that propelled the Stags to a 84-67 win. This win marks another MAAC sweep under the Stag’s belt, sending the Broncs home and completing the sweep. 

Impressive performances are not rare for guards Jalen Leach ’24, graduate student Caleb Fields and Jasper Floyd ’25, as their day-to-day performance proves how strong the core of the Stags’ offense really is; each of them scored at least 20 points Thursday night, with Leach topping it off at 22. 

Fields is currently the MAAC’s leading three-point shooter and has an average of 3.0 triples per game that he topped with 4 against Rider. 

The turn-around after the half was the result of the Stags outscoring the Broncs 49-28, led by Leach going 8-for-11 and 4-for-5 from outside the three-point line. The final result of 84-67, and its 21-point difference, is the Stags’ largest lead against a D1 opponent this season.

A huge highlight from the game was the return of forward and graduate student Alexis Yetna and guard/forward Louis Bleechmore ’24 to the court after injury. Yetna, who had yet to play for the Stags following a long-term injury, scored five points in his 18 minutes of action; this was his first game in over 690 days. Bleechmore missed four games due to injury, but came back stronger with six points. 

In the game’s official press release, Interim Head Coach Chris Casey commented, “We challenged our guys at the half to step up defensively, fight for loose balls and find a way to grind this one out.” 

Moving on to the Stags’ away game at Saint Peter’s, the Jersey City matchup came close up until the final moments. This is the third sweep the Stags have collected this season, arriving back at Fairfield with yet another victory under their belt. 

After trailing in the first half by as many as 11, the Stags showed signs of bouncing back and put up an 11-0 run to even it out, which was followed by the Peacocks biting back to make it 36-33 heading into halftime.

After the break, Fairfield answered with a 60-51 lead as the clock was drawing closer to its final minutes. This was followed by the Peacocks having an 8-1 run, making the score 61-59 in the final minute of play; they then sent Leach to the free-throw line, at which he went 2-for-2, giving the Stags a little leeway with 26 seconds left on the clock. After a layup and free-throw from Saint Peter’s guard Marcus Randolph ’25, the score moved to 63-62 with 16 seconds left. The Peacocks then fouled guard James Johns Jr. ’26 after a promising key pass, sending him to the free-throw line where he made one shot and put the Stags up by 2. With 4 seconds left on the clock, the Peacocks went for a layup, but failed to make the shot against Fairfield’s defense.

Once again, Fields and Leach led the pack with 17 points each. Fields’ 17 points came from four three-pointers, while Leach set the high for rebounds with seven. Joining them for the game’s noteworthy performances is Johns, who put up 11 points. 

According to the game’s official press release, Casey complimented the Stags following the game, “Everybody is grinding, everybody is banged up. And I’m proud of our guys for staying focused and fighting through all of that to come away with another tough road win.”

The Stags head back to Leo D. Mahoney Arena to host Niagara Univeristy’s Purple Eagles on Friday, Feb. 16 and then Mount St. Mary’s University’s Mountaineers the following Sunday.

About The Author

- Freshman | Assistant Sports Editor | Political Science Major -

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