by Dan Gardella


Bridgeport – Although non-conference play comes to an end, a season within itself began tonight. Conference play. For Fairfield University, they would love nothing more than to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.

The first step towards achieving that goal was accomplished Thursday night as they defeated St. Peter’s University 70-61.

The story throughout the game was defense as the Stags forced 18 turnovers resulting in 21 points off those turnovers.

“I wouldn’t say our scouting report was flawless, but I thought we rebounded well, I thought we made them earn a ton of stuff, and thankfully we created some turnovers.” said Stags head coach Sydney Johnson.

Offensively, it was not the same result as it has been all year.

It was freshman Omar El-Sheikh who rose to the occasion for Fairfield, tying a career high with 11 points along with grabbing 6 rebounds, and swatting away one shot.

“We focused on playing through the bigs. Most of my scoring came from under the rim, so I did my job” said El-Sheikh.

El-Sheikh, who missed last game with a bad ankle played crucial minutes with junior Jonathan Kasibabu in foul trouble in the second half.

Tyler Nelson silently added 19 points for Fairfield who improve to 1-0 in MAAC play.

St. Peter’s was led by freshman Elijah Gonzalez, who scored a career-high 16 points, connecting on 6 of his 10 shots.

Now winners of two straight, Fairfield (6-6)  hits the road for three games, taking on Manhattan, Rider, and Iona.