Scoreless streaks doom Stags in loss to Manhattan
BRIDGEPORT — Right now, not much is going right for Fairfield.
In fact, nothing is going right for Fairfield.
The Stags continue to have offensive woes, defensive lapses and can’t seem to get Tyler Nelson into any kind of rhythm. And the end result? It’s a frustration that’s growing more and more palpable every game.
Fairfield suffered through two massive scoreless strings — 6:23 in the first half and 7:52 in the first and second halves — and Nelson was held to just 14 points as Manhattan captured a 59-53 victory over a slumping Stags squad Thursday night at the Webster Bank Arena.
“The last couple of days haven’t been too much fun around the Bronx, with our (lack of) defensive intensity,” said Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, regarding 77 points surrendered to Monmouth and 82 surrendered to Rider, both losses. “We kind of got back to what we do. I spoke to the team about what our priorities are and I give the guys a lot of credit. They came out hard.”
Manhattan (8-9, 3-2 MAAC) had not won in the Webster Bank Arena since the 2007-08 season, losing 10 times to Fairfield and twice to Siena in the 2007 and 2011 MAAC tournament.
“I’d never won here before tonight,” Masiello said. “This is a big win for the program.”
And it’s another frustrating loss for Fairfield, which had now dropped four straight games and six of its last seven to fall to 6-10 overall and 1-4 in the MAAC. Last place.
“The two previous games we had on the road (Rider and Iona), we were very disappointed in our effort and approach to those games. We did not put our best foot forward,” Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson said. “Today was a completely different feeling. It’s a loss nonetheless but I thought our effort was outstanding, I thought our defense was locked in but they capitalized on some chances late and that was the difference in the game.”
The same on-going nightmare that has baffled the Stags for years continues to raise its ugly head — how to finish games. For far this season, there’s been an eight-point loss to Jacksonville, a one-point loss to Wright State, a two-point loss to Wagner, a five-point loss to Old Dominion.
Frustration, thy name is Fairfield.
The 53 points were a season-low for the Stags, who made 10 3-pointers but just 21 baskets overall. Nelson took only four shots in the first half, scoring just five points. In fact, when Nelson finally hit a 3-pointer with 5:46 to play, it ended a nearly 22-minute scoreless streak for the senior guard.
“On some level, they’re just playing a box-and-one,” Johnson said. “They’re just face guarding him. I liked the opportunities that we had in transition where he was involved. We did have some set plays where we got him some looks but they’re very good defensively, the entire league knows that. They press, they zone, they’re really active.”
“It was a team effort,” Masiello said. “Our term is ’10 eyes,’ we want 10 eyes on him at all times, he’s that great of a player. We have the utmost respect for him. But we didn’t want them to have anything easy, we really wanted to make Tyler work.”
Fairfield found itself tied at halftime 31-31, despite going 6:23 in the first half without a point. Over the opening two media timeouts, Manhattan was shooting over 60 percent from the field and held a 14-7 lead. But the Stags used a 24-11 run, highlighted by a trio of 3-pointers from Ferron Flowers, to open a 31-25 lead with 2:31 left. The Jaspers, however, finished with a 6-0 run, capped by Pauly Paulicap’s dunk (he had 12 in the first half) with three seconds to play, to head to the locker room even.
The Stags allowed the Jaspers to shoot 53.8 percent in the first half, with 12 of Manhattan’s 14 baskets coming inside the paint.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Manhattan’s Pauly Paulicap. The 6-foot-8 sophomore scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the first half as Manhattan established the paint, scoring 30 points inside. He also added seven rebounds and three blocks.
“We have to be very good coaches and understand what’s going on. I told them they put forth a very good account of themselves today, starting at the shoot-around all the way through to the buzzer. We got stop after stop, it was a much different feeling. We had two horrible games but this was the team I recognized.” Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson
NOT IN THE BOX SCORE
With his 14 points, Nelson stands in fourth place on the Fairfield all-time scoring list with 1,756 points. Derek Needham is third (1,875), Joe DeSantis (1,916) is second and Tony George is first with 2,006 points.
Manhattan 59, Fairfield 53
MANHATTAN (8-9) — Waterman 4-6 0-0 9, Paulicap 7-15 0-2 14, Turner 1-2 1-2 3, R.Williams 3-11 3-4 10, Capuano 3-3 0-0 8, Crawford 3-4 0-0 7, Mack 0-0 0-0 0, Walker 3-6 0-0 8, Strzala 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-47 4-8 59.
FAIRFIELD (6-10) — Milin 5-8 0-0 10, Kasibabu 2-4 0-0 4, Nelson 5-14 0-0 14, Segura 0-1 0-0 0, Flavors 5-11 0-1 14, Senghore-Peterson 0-1 0-0 0, Methnani 2-5 0-0 5, Cruz 2-5 1-2 6, Kavaliauskas 0-0 0-0 0, Benning 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-49 1-3 53.
Halftime — 31-31. 3-Point Goals — Manhattan 7-12 (Capuano 2-2, Walker 2-3, Crawford 1-2, Waterman 1-2, R.Williams 1-3), Fairfield 10-26 (Nelson 4-10, Flavors 4-10, Methnani 1-1, Cruz 1-2, Senghore-Peterson 0-1, Milin 0-2). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Manhattan 25 (Paulicap 7), Fairfield 26 (Kasibabu 7). Assists — Manhattan 12 (Turner 5), Fairfield 19 (Nelson 5). Total Fouls — Manhattan 11, Fairfield 15. Att: 1,214 (9,000).