by Dan Gardella
Bridgeport – After a deflating loss at the hands of Old Dominion five days ago, the Fairfield University Stags responded in a big way by defeating the University of New Hampshire 78-68 in front of 923 fans at Webster Bank Arena. The Stags used long defensive stands against the Wildcats to keep the lead and eventually pull away.
Going into the game, priority number one was stopping New Hampshire’s Tanner Leissner. It didn’t work out great as Leissner finished the game with 24 points and five rebounds.
“Leissner is a tough, physical kid.” said Stags head coach Sydney Johnson
On the offensive side for Fairfield the plan was a little easier: Give the ball to Tyler Nelson. The senior from Massachusetts poured in a season high 31 points on an efficient 10-16 shooting.
“As soon as I saw my first couple shots go in, I knew it was going to be a good game” said Nelson.
The Stags got an added boost from freshman Kevin Peterson as juniors Matija Milin and Jonathan Kasibabu were in foul trouble throughout the game. Peterson provided a spark, scoring 6 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.
Johnson talked about Peterson’s contribution and his frontcourt play in the postgame press conference, “I’m really convinced and confident of this: our frontcourt is a strength of ours.”, said Johnson. “I think Jonathan and Matija are spectacular and we really need them to play well as juniors. But we have three freshmen who are really good. Omar (El-Sheikh), we missed him because of an ankle, Kevin has been so solid, such a mature kid, and Wassif (Methnani) is spectacular and talented. So I think as a group, that’s one of the best things we have in our program”
Ferron Flavors Jr. added 11 first half points and finished with 14 for the game off the bench.
The Stags get five days off for Christmas break before returning to the court Wednesday, December 28th as they open MAAC Conference play, welcoming St. Peter’s to Webster Bank Arena.