Men's basketball advances to MAAC Tourney semifinals with 55-31 win over Marist


 

Image: Men's Basketball

Derek Needham scored a game-high 22 points with a career-high six steals, while Colin Nickerson added eight points and three steals to send top-seeded Fairfield University men's basketball team to the 2011 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Basketball Championship semifinals with a 55-31 win over ninth-seeded Marist College.

The team set a school record for least amount of points scored by an opponent, eclipsing Loyola's 35 point effort in a 56-35 loss to the Stags during the 2004-05 campaign.

Fairfield will play fourth-seeded Saint Peter's College on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. The Peacocks advanced to the semifinals following its win over fifth-seeded Loyola College. Tickets are available at the Arena box office or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

The Stags dominated the opening minutes with their defense, not allowing a Marist point for the first seven minutes of the game. During that time, Fairfield managed to build a small 6-0 lead on a basket from Ryan Olander, Colin Nickerson, and Needham. The scoreless streak ended with a three pointer from Candon Rusin which cut the lead in half at 6-3.

Needham responded with a three-point shot on the next possession to regain the six-point edge. Marist made a little leeway by cutting that deficit down to four points at 9-5 after Dorvell Carter's jumper. The Stags put together a 10-2 run over the next six-plus minutes that gave Fairfield its biggest lead to that point at 20-7 with 5:32 on the clock.

The Red Foxes trimmed the lead back to a single digit at 20-11 following Anell Alexis' bank-shot as the shot clock expired. The Stags would eventually recapture their 13-point edge by halftime, heading into the locker room with a 27-14 lead.

Fairfield owned the backboards in the first half, outrebounding Marist by a 23-9 count. Yorel Hawkins posted eight caroms in the half to go along with his four points. Needham led all scorers in the opening 20 minutes with 15 points on six of 10 shooting from the floor. He also connected on three of seven three-point attempts.

The Stags scored the first three points of the second half when Needham made three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt, giving them their biggest lead at 30-14. Marist used a 9-2 run to come within nine points, 32-23. The Stags rallied for 11 straight points to push secure its biggest lead at 20 points at 43-23, the last two points coming off Jamel Field's lay up.

Marist scored the next four points to make the score 43-27, the last points coming off a three pointer from Carter. The Red Foxes would not come any closer as the Stags closed the game by scoring 12 of the final 16 points to take their biggest advantage at game's end.

Fairfield forced 19 steals in the game which led to 24 points as eight different student-athletes secured at least one steal in the game. The Stags defense forced Marist into 26 turnovers which represent a season-high for turnovers by an opponent this year.

Tonight's attendance stood at 5,235 which marks the first time in school history that the Stags played at home in front of more than 5,000 fans in consecutive games. The attendance for the Siena game, the team's regular-season home finale, stood at 5,287 fans. The total was also sixth largest crowd for a Fairfield game at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard.

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

Posted on March 5, 2011