UNCASVILLE, Conn.— It was a night for the upperclassmen. It was a night for the underclassmen. And, it was a night for Fairfield University basketball. Facing a three-game losing streak and a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent, the Stags showed their coaches, their fans, and themselves that this team has what it takes to win games, no matter who the opponent is.
Fairfield led nearly wire-to-wire and finished the night with an 89-83 win over Boston College in the first game of the Birthday of Basketball at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The effort came from all across the roster as sophomores, juniors, and a graduate student made it a total team effort.
“We feel like we have seven starters with Jerry and Jonathan off the bench,” Head Coach Sydney Johnson said. “We feel like we can play seven guys and you could see how important Jerry was tonight We went three of four games without being at full strength. It’s not like a whole season relies on one guy. But when we are at full strength, we are a pretty good team and having Jonathan and Jerry showed that tonight.”
Seven players saw action tonight and five of those student-athletes reached double figures, led by Curtis Cobb and Tyler Nelson who each scored a team-high 20 points. Jerry Johnson Jr. came off the bench to score 17 points while Jonathan Kasibabu netted 10 points and secured eight rebounds. And, Amadou Sidibe just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine caroms.
In the early going, it was either team’s game to win as the opponents kept each other close without either taking control. Boston College took its first lead five minutes into the game
Fairfield used a 15-4 run to secure its first double-digit lead of the night at 25-15 with 9:59 remaining in the half as Johnson Jr. netted a pair of three pointers and Cobb added his fourth three-point field goal of the half during that run. But just as quickly as the lead appeared, the advantage evaporated in under three minutes as a 10-0 Eagles run tied the score at 25-25.
The Stags scored eight of the next 10 points that regained a six-point edge at 33-27 with just under six minutes left in the half. The lead would reach 15 points at 45-30 with two minutes remaining in the half as Kasibabu posted five points and Nelson added four points during that stretch. Fairfield would eventually settle for a 10-point halftime lead, 47-37, despite Boston College scoring the final five points of the period.
Boston College continued to trail by double figures in the opening minutes of the second half, finding itself down 53-40 after two minutes of play and still trailed by 12, 67-55, with 11:29 on the clock. The Eagles found their way back into the game courtesy of Ky Bowman, who would finish with a game-high 33 points with 21 points coming after halftime.
With his efforts, Boston College climbed with a pair of points after his three-point basket made the score 76-74 with five minutes left in the game. The Stags rallied for seven straight points to push the lead back to nine points, 83-74, with Nelson being responsible for five of those points. The Eagles clawed their way back into contention with a 9-1 spurt that saw the Fairfield lead drop to a single point, 84-83, with 1:05 remaining in the game.
Sidibe answered for his teammates with a three-point play that made it a two possession game with 32 seconds on the clock. After Justin Robinson missed on the next Boston College possession, Nelson grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and made both free throws with 17 seconds remaining which virtually ended the game.
The Stags improved to 6-4 with the victory and now faces a nine-day break until taking the court against Penn on December 30. The 4 pm game will be played at the historic Palestra.