PHILADELPHIA –Tyler Nelson scored a team-high 21 points, one of three Fairfield University men’s basketball student-athletes in double figures for the game, but the Stags fell to the University of Pennsylvania, 74-68, at the Palestra this afternoon.
Fairfield grabbed the lead early and took control within the first 10 minutes of the game. With the score tied at 9-9, the Stags used a 14-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 23-11 as Nelson made two three-point field goals and Jerry Johnson Jr. added one more long-range jumper. The double-digit lead remained intact with seven minutes remaining, 28-17, as Penn had trouble shooting from the outside during the first 13 minutes.
The Quakers missed their first 11 three-point shots and did not make a three pointer until Ryan Betley netted a shot from the top of the key to pull Penn within eight points, 25-17. The shot started Penn on a 19-9 spurt to end the half that brought the home team within a point, 34-33, at the half.
Fairfield managed to push its one-point edge to five points in the first four minutes of the second half, making the score 44-39 after Nelson’s three pointer. The Quakers responded with a 17-6 run that turned the five-point deficit into a 56-50 lead at the 9:55 mark.
Penn never trailed from that point and led by as many eight points on a couple of occasions. The Stags came as close as three points late in the game but could not overcome Penn’s AJ Brodeur. The freshman finished the game with 27 points and 10 rebounds, including 20 second-half points.
Johnson Jr. came off the bench to tally 13 points and eight rebounds, while Curtis Cobb added 11 points with a pair of assists. Matt Howard also helped the Penn cause with 19 points and nine rebounds, netting 11 in the first half and eight more in the second half.
Fairfield returns to the hardwood on Monday night when the Stags host Iona College in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) game. The game is scheduled for 7 pm at Webster Bank Arena.