The Fairfield University men’s basketball team held two home games this past week, hosting Quinnipiac University on Feb. 9 and Niagara University on Feb. 12.
Both games were critical for the Stags, as March is quickly approaching, and their confidence will want to be boosted heading into the tournament.
While home court advantage is usually an overpowering factor in college basketball, the Stags have been dreadful at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. during MAAC play, failing to win a game in five contests thus far.
Against Quinnipiac, Fairfield was eager to get back to their winning ways at home, but came out to a cold start, falling behind quickly and struggling from the field early.
Head Coach Jay Young and his players are no-quitters, bringing the game back within striking distances multiple times with help from Supreme Cook ‘24.
Cook was the star for the Stags, putting up his sixth double-double of the year, scoring 10 points and gathering 10 rebounds. He also secured four blocks, his career high and the most by any Fairfield player this season.
Along with Cook, TJ Long ‘25 had 11 points and was on fire from three, going 3-4 from downtown. Graduate student Taj Benning, also had nine points for the Stags, just two shy of his season average.
Although Fairfield had productive scoring nights from three key players, the Stags could not get close enough to take any momentum away from the Bobcats and failed to take the lead or even tie the game throughout the contest.
Fairfield ultimately lost the game 60-69, a disappointing loss for Coach Young and his team. The home losing streak in the MAAC was still haunting the Stags.
With a game three days later, Fairfield would have to have a short memory and move onto the next contest against a strong Niagara squad.
The game started very differently compared to the Quinnipiac affair, as the Stags were heating up from the field at the start of the game and kept their foot on the gas from start to finish.
Graduate student Jesus Cruz led the Stags with 14 points in a balanced Fairfield scoring effort. Graduate student Caleb Green was impeccable as well, assisting eight times, his career high and scoring ten points.
Having these leaders on the court playing at this level will be extremely important going forward for Coach Young and his squad heading into March.
“They have to keep continuing what they’re doing, they’re at a good place right now,” said Coach Young. “Cruz has been shooting the ball very well, hopefully he can continue to stay for us.”
Along with the Stags’ successful shooting, they held Niagara to just 53 points, which was their most impressive defensive performance in the MAAC so far this season.
Fairfield would end up overpowering the Purple Eagles, diminishing any chance of a comeback and winning the game by a margin of 20 points, ending in a score of 73-53.
This was also the first time the Stags won by double digits in conference play. The home win also marked the first of the season for Fairfield in the MAAC, giving them a lot of confidence going into their next matchup.
“Our goal is still to win the MAAC Championship,” said Young. “We need to position ourselves to be in a good spot for Atlantic City, it has been our goal all year and it will not change.”
They will host another home game against Canisius College on Feb. 14 at 7:00 p.m. The Golden Griffins are a dangerous team that the Stags are familiar with, ensuring an exciting contest for supporters.
Check out the game on ESPN +, where you can stream the game on your mobile device. Show your support and go Stags!