On Friday, Nov. 3, the red and white faithful were privy to a dismal collapse as the Stags fell 88-86 to the Bridgeport Purple Knights, a Division II program, on a buzzer-beater in their final exhibition game before the season begins.
Fairfield’s offense looked promising in the first half as they finished the first 20 minutes of play up 45-35. The Stags shot 63 percent from the field in the frame and a 44.4 percent from beyond the arc while Bridgeport kept Fairfield star Tyler Nelson ‘18 relatively quiet. First-year Ferron Flavors Jr. led the offensive charge with 11 points, nine of which were from the three in the half.
With the offense running smoothly, it was up to the Stags’ defense to rise to the challenge. The man-to-man defense looked stout in the first half as they held the Purple Knights to just 40 percent shooting in the half. The red and white rebounded well and forced the visitors to take most of their shots from the three as they swallowed the Purple Knights when they ventured into the paint.
As the second half began, the Stags offense once again came out on fire. At one point in the half, Fairfield stretched its lead to 56-42, the largest lead of the game for either team. But Bridgeport would not quit, as they battled back to cut the lead to two points at 60-58 with 12 and a half minutes remaining.
With six minutes left, the Stags looked like they regained control after a Jerome Segura ‘18 three-point play gave Fairfield a 75-69 lead. Bridgeport then once again went on an offensive tear as they tied the game at 77 with two and a half minutes to play.
For the next two minutes the teams traded lead changes until a layup from Wassif Methnani ‘21 gave the Stags an 86-85 lead with under 30 seconds to play. Bridgeport then went to the charity stripe and made the first free-throw after a foul was called to even the game at 86. The Purple Knights then missed the second shot to give the Stags the ball and a chance to win the game.
Nelson dribbled the ball up the court and went to pass to Taj Benning ‘21, but his pass was deflected and stolen by Bridgeport as the Purple Knights charged down the court in the game’s waning seconds and converted a game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded to win the game 88-86 and drain the hopes of Fairfield fans.
Flavor’s Jr. and Nelson led the way with 16 points a piece as Methnani posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Fairfield opens regular season play this Saturday, Nov. 11 when they welcome the University of Pennsylvania Quakers to Webster Bank Arena for a 1 p.m. tip off.