Fairfield University’s men’s basketball team celebrated Lucas the Stag’s 22nd birthday during their Friday night game on Jan. 19. Complete with all the glitz and glamor of a Taylor Swift concert, the Stags gave a show to the crowd of 3,382 at Leo D. Mahoney Arena, walking away with a 76-67 win after the dust settled. 

Whether drawn in by the festivities for Lucas the Stag’s birthday or the MAAC matchup itself, fans of all ages got a taste of what college basketball has to offer. Fans were treated to an outstanding performance from guard Jalen Leach ‘24 who tallied an impressive 29 points with 9-for-13 shooting and a team-high of eight rebounds. Other notable performances came from guard and redshirt senior Brycen Goodine who tallied up 16 points and went three-for-six on three-pointers. First-year Peyton Smith ‘27 also played well, scoring 10 points and displaying a serious appreciation for the crowd’s energy.

For tenured fans of the sport, the different styles of play between the Stags and Peacocks made for a very entertaining matchup. The Stags discipline was on full display as it was tested by the explosive competitiveness of the Peacocks, with each team pulling off impressive plays and flashy drives. Despite being a back and forth with the lead being switched six times, the Stags maintained a determined spirit and didn’t falter when the score wasn’t in their favor. While under pressure during the fourth lead change after 13 minutes of play, Louis Bleechmore ‘24 was subbed in and made a noticeable difference in team chemistry with a textbook layup and jumper before unfortunately being subbed out due to injury in the last seconds of the first half. 

When asked about the game for the official press release, Interim Head Coach Chris Casey stated, “If you’re a college basketball fan, that’s a game you wanted to watch.” 

 He also noted the energy of the full crowd, “I had a blast tonight, and I think our guys did too.” Fans were kept entertained by a half court shot and full court putt for $10k, a Taylor-Swift themed guessing game and a halftime scrimmage from the Trumbull Youth Basketball Team. 

Every controversial play was met with unwavering support from the home crowd, who enjoyed the rising tension between both teams. “Its an outstanding atmosphere here. The students are great, the community is great. And we need even more to come out and fill every seat. Make it such a home court advantage that nobody wants to play here,” said Casey. 

Fairfield improved their record to 11-7 overall and 5-2 in the MAAC, giving St. Peter’s their first MAAC loss this season and ending their six-game winning streak. The attendance was also a notable stat iself, as it marked the largest attendance for a Fairfield home game this season the the third largest in the history of Leo D. Mahoney Arena.

The Stags return to action on Sunday, Jan. 21at 2 p.m. at Manhattan College. Catch their next home game against Quinnipiac University at 2 p.m at the Leo D. Mahoney Area. Tickets are on sale now at FairfieldStags.com/TIX. 

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