AP NEWS

Nelson’s 29 lifts Fairfield past Marist

February 16, 2018 GMT

BRIDGEPORT — Suffice to say, Fairfield needed this one.

After being blasted in back-to-back games by Niagara and Canisius in Buffalo over the weekend, the Stags were staring straight at a possible MAAC tournament play-in game. And Fairfield went into Thursday’s meeting against Marist at the Webster Bank Arena needing a late surge to possibly finish at .500 in the conference and create some positive momentum heading toward March Madness.

And thanks to 29 points from Tyler Nelson, who is now on the doorstep of becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer, Fairfield held off a determined Marist squad 83-79.

“They had 15 3’s the first time we played them, so we talked about that and tried not to let them shoot so many 3’s,” said Nelson. “Tonight, we held them to seven and that was the difference. We knew if we could limit their 3’s, we’d win.”

Marist came into the game with just five wins all season but one of those came against Fairfield, a 95-89 overtime decision on January 13, just another one of the many close losses the Stags have suffered this season.

On Saturday, Fairfield faces Quinnipiac (9-17) at the WBA before heading to Albany on Thursday to play Siena (8-19) and returning home to end the regular season against Monmouth (9-17).

“These last three games are really important,” Nelson said. “They’re all winnable games and we have to stay focused and take things one game at a time and try and win all three and put ourselves in the best position we can come MAAC tournament time.”

With both Jonathan Kasibabu and Matija Milin missing the game with flu-like symptoms, Johnson went with Wassef Methnani as his big man but after just four minutes, Methnani was on the bench with two fouls. And that allowed Marist to open a quick 13-7 lead. Going to a four-guard lineup, Fairfield got a lift from Jerome Segura, who scored five points, had three steals and two assists in his 12 minutes of work. The two assists gave him 400 for his career.

Leading 38-32 at halftime, Fairfield kept working to expand the margin and when Nelson hit a 3 with 6:31 to play, the Stags led 71-59.

“We were thrilled with our defense,” Stags coach Sydney Johnson said. “We knew they were potent offensively and that first time at their place, they absolutely drilled us. They really hurt us from the 3-point line. We wanted to have a better account of ourselves especially defensively and in that first half, we were really locked in.”

But down 12, Marist answered with a 7-0 run to get within 71-66 with 3:12 left. But Fairfield made 10 straight free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.

“We lost our focus the last couple of minutes but what I liked in the second half was that we were in control of the game, that’s not what happened the first time we played them,” Johnson said. “Those last two or three minutes, credit them, they kept playing. We lost our focus and we have to learn from that.”

Along with Nelson’s 29, Ferron Flavors Jr. scored 16 points, Jesus Cruz had 10 and Wassef Methnani had eight for Fairfield. Marist (5-22) was led by 18 points from Brian Parker, Ryan Funk had 15, Austin Williams had 12 and Lasse Gummerus and Tobias Sjoberg each had 11.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Nelson? Nope. It’s Ferron Flavors Jr. The sophomore scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, hit four 3-pointers and made all four free throws, including two huge ones with 5.4 seconds left to lock down the Stags victory.

QUOTABLE

“He’s one of the best players that ever played here at Fairfield. He’s been spectacular and he’s still got some more basketball left in him.” - Stags coach Sydney Johnson on Tyler Nelson

CLOSING THE GAP

With his 29 points against the Red Foxes Monday night, Tyler Nelson (2,000) needs just seven points to become Fairfield University’s all-time leading scorer, passing Tony George’s career mark of 2,006 points, set between 1983-1986. This season, Nelson has scored 560 points.

celsberry@ctpost.com

FAIRFIELD 83, MARIST 79

FB

FT

Reb

MARIST

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Gummerus

21

5-6

0-0

3-7

2

0

11

Sjoberg

26

5-9

1-1

2-6

1

3

11

Parker

28

5-14

7-9

1-6

4

2

18

Funk

39

4-8

4-4

0-4

0

2

15

Knudsen

33

1-5

0-0

0-1

2

3

3

Williams

21

5-8

2-3

1-6

2

2

12

Dozic

16

1-2

0-1

0-2

0

0

3

McClenaghan

13

2-6

2-2

0-2

0

4

6

Bernardi

3

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

Totals

200

28-58

16-20

7-34

11

17

79

Percentages: FG .483, FT .800. 3-Point Goals: 7-23, .304 (Funk 3-6, Gummerus 1-1, Dozic 1-2, Knudsen 1-4, Parker 1-5, Williams 0-2, McClenaghan 0-3). Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: 13 (11 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (McClenaghan, Williams). Turnovers: 13 (Parker 5, Williams 3, Dozic 2, Knudsen 2, Funk). Steals: 5 (Dozic, Funk, Gummerus, McClenaghan, Williams). Technical Fouls: None.

FG

FT

Reb

FAIRFIELD

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Methnani

11

3-8

2-2

2-2

0

5

8

Cruz

27

4-10

1-1

1-7

4

3

10

Flavors

33

4-14

4-4

1-10

1

3

16

Kavaliauskas

35

3-3

0-0

2-4

6

2

7

Nelson

40

10-18

6-6

1-4

2

3

29

Senghore-Peterson

29

1-4

1-4

1-3

2

1

4

Segura

12

2-5

0-0

0-0

2

0

5

El-Sheikh

9

2-3

0-0

0-1

0

0

4

Benning

4

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

0

0

Totals

200

29-65

14-17

8-32

17

17

83

Percentages: FG .446, FT .824. 3-Point Goals: 11-27, .407 (Flavors 4-11, Nelson 3-8, Kavaliauskas 1-1, Senghore-Peterson 1-1, Segura 1-2, Cruz 1-4). Team Rebounds: 0. Team Turnovers: 8 (8 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (Senghore-Peterson 2). Turnovers: 8 (Methnani 2, Nelson 2, Benning, El-Sheikh, Flavors, Kavaliauskas). Steals: 7 (Segura 3, Cruz, Kavaliauskas, Nelson, Senghore-Peterson). Technical Fouls: None.

MARIST 32 47 —79

FAIRFIELD 38 45—83

A—1,191 (9,000).