Men's Basketball Falls To UMBC In CIT First Round
March 15, 2017
BALTIMORE, Md. -- The Fairfield University men's basketball put together a strong second half that erased a halftime deficit, but it was not enough for the Stags to overcome UMBC in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament on Wednesday night. The Retrievers rallied midway through the second half with a 16-5 run that turned a deficit into a lead, which the team would carry to an 88-83 win over the Stags.
As has been the case for most of the season, Tyler Nelson was at the heart of Fairfield's offense by posting a game-high 30 points, splitting his scoring down the middle with 15 points in each half. With support from Matija Milin, the Stags quickly erased a halftime deficit that stood at 46-41. Will Darley scored the first points of the second half to push the lead to seven points, but that was where the Stags began to find their way through the UMBC defense.
Fairfield used a 13-3 run over the next three-plus minutes that turned the momentum in the team's favor. Milin started the streak with a three-point field goal, the first of three that the sophomore would make during that run. Nelson followed with a layup to make it a one-possession game at 48-46 with 18:07 on the clock. After a three-point field goal by the home team, the Stags scored the next eight points to take the lead at 54-51. Milin sandwiched three pointers around a Jonathan Kasibabu dunk to comprise the string of points.
UMBC stopped the streak with Nolan Gerrity's layup, but Nelson responded with another three pointer to give Fairfield its biggest lead of the half at 58-54. The Retrievers would eventually regain the lead at 58-57, the go ahead points coming off Jarius Lyles three-point play at the 14:36 mark.
There were three more lead changes between the two teams, the last of which put Fairfield in the lead at 61-60 after a pair of free throws from Milin. After that play, the Retrievers put together that decisive 16-5 run over the next five minutes that would give the team its first double-digit lead at 76-66.
The Stags would come as close at three points with 31 seconds left in the game after Nelson's second-chance three-point shot made the score 84-81. Although UMBC would not score a basket over the final four-plus minutes, the team stood strong at the free throw line, making seven of eight attempts during that time frame which allowed the team to hold on for the win.
Milin finished with 20 points for the Stags, his best performance since netting 21 points against Iona in early January. Jerry Johnson Jr. came off the bench to score 13 points while Kasibabu also reached double figures with 10 points. Jarius Lyles paced the UMBC offense with 20 points.