Fairfield junior Maurice Barrow scored a career-high 21 points and senior guard Derek Needham added 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists as the visiting Stags defeated Canisius College 66-45 Thursday night in the Koessler Athletic Center. Fairfield, which has now won six straight, moved to 10-5 overall and 2-1 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play with the win, while the Golden Griffins saw their six-game home win streak came to an end, as the team slipped to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in league action.
Canisius junior Billy Baron scored a team-high 14 points in the loss for Canisius, which dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season after falling to Detroit Dec. 30 on the road. Fellow junior Chris Manhertz was credited with his fifth career double-double as he scored 11 points to go with a game-high 13 rebounds. The Griffs struggled offensively all night, as the team shot 30.4 percent from the field, 20 percent from 3-point range and 51.9 percent from the free-throw line in the loss, while Fairfield turned 21 Canisius turnovers into 24 points en route to the victory.
“Fairfield is a good team. They won 22 games last year, they have upperclassmen who have been through it and they pressured us early and forced us into turnovers,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “To their credit, they made shots early and that gave them some confidence and we dug a hole that was just too deep. I told our guys we are going to need to match their intensity and we fell short of that. We need to do a better job of executing all around.”
Fairfield wasted little time taking control of the game, as the Stags jumped out to an early 11-0 lead just 4:01 into the contest and never looked back. Needham got the scoring started on Fairfield’s first possession of the game with a long 3-pointer from the top of the key 17 seconds into the contest. With the Stags up 5-0, junior Keith Matthews scored five-straight points, capped by an offensive rebound and a put-back at the 15:50 mark of the first half to give Fairfield its 11-point cushion. The Griffs went 5:10 without a point to start the game before Baron hit a 3-pointer, and Manhertz followed moments later with an offensive rebound and a put-back of his own to trim Fairfield’s hold to 11-5. After the Stags went empty on their next trip down the floor, Manhertz slammed home a pass from Baron to make the score 11-7 in favor of Fairfield, but after a 30-second timeout by the Stags, Fairfield scored the games’ next nine points to take a 20-7 lead with 7:49 left before halftime. Fairfield led 34-17 at the break after it shot 50 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the free-throw line in the game’s first 20 minutes, while Canisius shot 22.7 percent from the floor, went 1-for-7 from behind the arc and shot 50 percent from the charity stripe in the opening stanza.
The second half saw more of the same for both teams, as Fairfield pushed its lead to as many as 26 points at 51-25 with 9:47 left to play thanks to a pair of made free-throws by Barrow. Canisius and Fairfield both ended the night with 34 rebounds for the game, while the Stags outscored the Blue and Gold 26-18 in the paint, 15-7 in second-chance points and 10-0 on fast break points.
Matthews ended the night with nine points for Fairfield, while senior guard Colin Nickerson added five points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals to the winning effort. Canisius sophomore Josiah Heath scored six points off the bench for the Griffs and senior Harold Washington chipped in five.
Canisius will close out the weekend at home Saturday, Jan. 5, when the team plays host to Marist in the Koessler Athletic Center. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: This marked the 75th all-time meeting between these two schools, with Fairfield holding a 44-31 lead in the series… The Stags have now won five straight and nine of the last 11 games between the two teams in Buffalo… The 45 points are the fewest for Canisius since the team lost to Loyola (Chicago) at home by a score of 59-45 on Dec. 22, 2011… Canisius came into the game averaging 9.7 3-pointers per game, which ranked second nationally, but matched a season-low with three makes from behind the arc… Baron now has double figures in the scoring column in five-straight games and in 12 of the team’s 14 outings this season… Manhertz’s 13 rebounds on Thursday improves his career rebounding average against Fairfield to 9.0 boards per game in six career meetings against the Stags.