Thursday, March 6, 2014

Saint Peter's Washington Strikes Again Vs. Stags

The odds of lightning striking twice in the same place is nearly insurmountable, but probably not much greater than Saint Peter's junior guard Desi Washington being a relative force of nature three times against the Fairfield men's team this season.

Washington, who twice beat the Stags with last-second three-point shots during the teams' regular-season meetings, struck once again in Thursday's opening-round contest of the MAAC tournament.

This time might have been the most-dramatic of all, coming with 1.4 seconds remaining in the overtime session when the 6-2 guard pushed the ball down court with time running down, pulling up from the right side about 27 feet from the basket and dropping a three-point lightning bolt that gave the Peacocks a 65-62 victory.

For Fairfield, it was deja vu all over again. The Stags surely wanted to stop the proceedings as Washington rushed up court, because they had seen this one before.

Washington had made last-second three-point shots that over came two-point deficits in both regular-season meetings, almost from the exact same spot he did on Thursday, that gave Saint Peter's 56-55 and 63-62 victories in those contests.

"It's almost like something for the ESPY's," said Saint Peter's coach John Dunne, referring to the ESPN network's annual awards show for outstanding athletic accomplishments. "To do it in all three games, hitting game-winning three pointers from the same exact spot ..."

Fairfield seemed to have defended Thursday's latest enactment of the recurring nightmare fairly well, with to Stags hounding Washington as he dribbled into his preferred spot and both defenders getting hands up in Washington's face as he elevated and released the shot.

But, to no avail as the long-distance heave swished through the net.

"I almost called a time out there (as Washington was bringing the ball up court)," said Dunne. "I'm glad I didn't, but when he took the shot I was saying `oh my god Desi,' and he was taking the shot right in front of our bench so I know he heard me. And, it went in."

"That shot is just crazy," said teammate Marvin Dominique, afterwards. "It was just crazy."

Fairfield had less complimentary things to say about seeing Washington beat them yet again with a late-game dagger.

"Some times the basketball gods are cruel," said Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson, whose team finishes with 7-25 overall record. "The basketball gods came up short of luck for Fairfield this year."

Saint Peter's, now 14-16 overall advances to Saturday's 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal round contest against No. 2 seed Manhattan. And, it needed some earlier heroics from Washington to get there, too.

With Fairfield holding a three-point lead with about two minutes left in regulation, Washington went one-on-one to convert back-to-back jumpers from the 17-foot range to give his team a 57-56 advantage with 1:23 remaining.

Fairfield reclaimed the lead when forward Marcus Gilbert made a pair of free throws, but the winners tied it when Dominique made one of two from the foul line. The Stags' Gilbert then missed on a drive that bounced off the rim at the end of regulation that sent things into overtime and set the stage for another reprisal of Fairfield's recurring nightmare ... a Washington game-winner from long range.

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