NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – It’s not easy to come back from a 24-point deficit, something the Fairfield University men’s basketball team faced in each half of tonight’s game at Iona College. The Stags efforts were valiant but the deficit proved to be too much on this night. In the second half, Fairfield trailed by 24 points only to cut the lead to as little as five points before falling by a 96-89 score at the Hynes Center.
Fairfield also trailed by 24 points in the first half as Iona scored the first 10 points of the game and eventually built a 38-14 lead with 7:38 remaining in the half. The Stags did not fold though and started to chip away a little at a time, coming as close as 11 points with 1:43 left in the half before ending the half down 12 points, 47-35.
Iona started the second half in a similar way and flashed offensively by outscoring Fairfield 16-4 over the first five minutes. Fairfield began to get back into the game with its long-range shooting, scoring the next nine points of the game from behind the three-point line. Tyler Nelson started the run, followed by Thomas Nolan before Nelson ended it with another long-range jumper. Nelson continued the Fairfield comeback bid with a layup that brought Fairfield within 65-52.
The Gaels ran the score back to 16 points on a couple of occasions, the last of which came at 70-54. Fairfield put together a 7-0 run that included four points from Nelson and a three-pointer from Jerry Johnson Jr. Iona went back up 11 points, 72-61, but the Stags continued to make a bid for the come-from-behind win, coming as close as six points at 74-68 after Matija Milin laid the ball in the basket with four minutes remaining.
Fairfield came closest with 50 seconds remaining, 88-83, but Iona made free throws in the closing minute to keep the Stags from coming any closer.
Nelson led all Fairfield scorers with 27 points, 25 of which came in the second half. Johnson Jr. posted 26 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Jordan Washington paced the Iona offense with 30 points while Jon Severe chipped in with 16 points.
The Stags will finish up the weekend road swing with a 2 pm game at Monmouth University before returning home for four straight home games beginning with a January 28 match up with Marist College.