ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Fairfield University men's basketball team's stay at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Basketball Championship came to an abrupt end with its 78-66 loss to Siena College at the Times Union Center. Tyler Nelson posted 25 points to lead all scorers, including 15 points in the second half.
With the setback, Fairfield dropped to 16-14 overall while Siena evened up their record at 16-16 with the result.
The Stags' start seemed promising as Jerome Segura and Nelson netted the team's first two shots of the game, both coming from behind the three-point line that gave Fairfield a 6-2 lead just over a minute into the game. But those points would be the team's last for nearly eight minutes, enabling the fourth-seeded Saints to reel off 16 unanswered points that provided the home team with their first-double digit advantage at 18-6.
Fairfield's scoring difficulties would continue to plague the team for most of the first half, allowing Siena to keep its double-digit lead intact for the remainder of the half. The Stags managed to cut the deficit to eight points on a few occasions, but the Saints seemed to have the answer whenever they had the basketball. By the end of the half, Siena brought a 38-27 lead into the locker room, scoring eight points off turnovers and eight points on second-chance opportunities.
Despite the halftime deficit, the Stags slowly cut into the lead throughout the second half. Fairfield remained close for the first 10 minutes of the second half, pulling within six points on several occasions. One of those occasions, Nelson went to the line for a two-shot foul that became four free throws when a technical foul was added to the mix. The junior made three of those charity tosses that brought the score to 42-36 at the 16:26 mark.
The Stags came closest with nine minutes remaining after Jerry Johnson Jr.’s layup made the score 52-47.
Jason Ogunyemi countered Fairfield’s comeback bid with a three-point field goal on the team’s next possession that pushed the advantage back to eight points.The forward’s long-range basket triggered a 10-0 Siena run that regained a double-digit lead for the Saints and put the game out of Fairfield’s reach at 62-47 with just under seven minutes left in the game. The Stags came no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Matija Milin and Amadou Sidibe each reached double figures for the Stags, netting 14 and 10 points, respectively. Ogunyemi paced Siena’s offense with 24 points and added nine rebounds to his night. Brett Bisping posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Saints.