Men's basketball ranked seventh in the country for scoring defense



Image: Hawkins playing basketballPride can be a powerful motivator for any student-athlete or coach. And so it should be no surprise to find the Fairfield University men's basketball team ranked seventh in Division I for scoring defense as well as on top of several defensive categories in the latest Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference overall team statistics.

"At the beginning of the year, we set one of our goals to be a good defensive team," Head Coach Ed Cooley said. "I think our student-athletes took a great deal of pride in making that goal a top priority. And, you can see that hard work paying off on most nights we play."

The Stags moved up to the number seven slot in the latest NCAA statistics which came out on January 3. Fairfield was allowing just 56.2 points per game, a number which has since fallen to 55.5 points per game after a 70-48 win over Niagara in the team's last outing. The Stags have allowed less than 60 points in eight of their 13 appearances this year, and yielded less than 20 points in the first half on five occasions. Fairfield surrendered only 13 first-half points against Savannah State, a game which the Stags eventually won by a 41-39 margin.

Fairfield also ranks first among the MAAC teams for scoring defense, nearly three points less than second-place Saint Peter's mark of 58.1 points allowed per game. Those two teams will meet on Sunday at 1 pm at the Arena at Harbor Yard, a game which may feature the only two remaining teams with an unbeaten MAAC record (3-0). Both teams will play one game before meeting on January 9, as the Peacocks heading to Iona and the Stags travel to Marist on Friday night.

Fairfield is also the number one team in the MAAC for scoring margin (+8.5 points per game), and three-point field goal defense (.300). Individually, Derek Needham and Yorel Hawkins are tied for third in the MAAC with 1.5 steals per game.

Coach Cooley has also led his team to a winning record at home (5-1), on the road (3-2), and in neutral settings (2-0) this year, joining Rider University as the only two conference teams to boast that type of success.

The team's defensive efforts have certainly been a major reason for the team's success this season. The Stags are enjoying a nine-game winning streak which is the longest by any MAAC team this year. The nine-game run equals the 1961-62 team's streak which eventually led to a 20-5 season. The longest win streak in school history stands at 13 games, set during the 1965-66 team which would end the year with a 19-5 mark.

You can be part of this historic run put forth by the Fairfield University men's basketball team by coming out on Sunday, January 9 when the Stags host Saint Peter's College. Game time is 1 p.m. at the Arena at Harbor Yard. Tickets for the Saint Peter's game and all Fairfield University men's basketball games can be purchased at the Arena at Harbor Yard box office, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

NCAA Statistical Leaders

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Media Contact: Jack Jones, (203) 254-4116

Posted on January 5, 2011