Friday, March 8, 2013

Fairfield's Late-Game Defense Stops Saint Peter's

Basketball teams aren't awarded victories based on style points, and that's a good thing for the Fairfield men's squad.

The Stags win games with tough, physical play and strong defense. It's might not be aesthetically pleasing to the undiscerning eye, but it gets the job done.

And, that's how Fairfield won its preliminary round contest of the MAAC's post-season tournament late Friday night.

Trailing by two with 5:45 remaining, Fairfield played some of the best defense seen in this tournament the rest of the way, almost entirely shutting down Saint Peter's to earn a 54-47 victory.

"The guys to commit to it," said Stags' coach Sidney Johnson, about his team's year-long defensive play. "They work tremendously hard at it in practice. What you saw tonight (holding Saint Peter's to a single point in the game's final 5:45) is a product of our practice habits."

Fairfield held the Peacocks to 0-for-7 shooting (two of the shots blocked) and two turnovers over that stretch.

"They're a good defensive team," said Saint Peter's coach John Dunne, about Fairfield. "They take away your strengths and don't let you get to the rim. Still, we had a couple of driving layups late that just didn't fall."

The victory sends Fairfield to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. quarterfinal-round contest against No. 2 seed Rider.

Saint Peter's finishes with a 9-21 record.

"Still, I couldn't be ore proud of a team," added Dunne. "Some times your proud that your team wins games or scores points. These guys made a gut check, and the way they bounced back ... When you're having a long year, players could see a light at the end of the tunnel that's the end of the season. But we never looked at it that way. These guys came to work every day with a good attitude, and I couldn't be more proud of them."

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