BRIDGEPORT, CONN. – – Fairfield University jumped out to an early 11-0 lead just 2:14 into the game and never looked back as the host Stags defeated Canisius College 72-54 Sunday afternoon in the Webster Bank Arena. The win improved the Stags to 8-6 overall and 3-0 in the MAAC, while the Golden Griffins slipped to 3-10 overall and 0-3 in league play.
Fairfield senior forward Rakim Sanders led all scorers with a game-high 21 points, while junior guard Derek Needham chipped in 15 points and six assists as the Stags shot 47.4 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore Maurice Barrow was good for 14 points and four assists, while senior center Ryan Olander contributed a team-high 15 rebounds to the winning cause.
For Canisius, junior Harold Washington scored a team-high 17 points, with 13 of those points coming in the game’s final 20 minutes. Sophomore forward Chris Manhertz posted his second career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, while junior guard Gaby Belardo scored 11 points off the bench. Canisius shot 29.5 percent from the field for the game and 25 percent from 3-point land, while hitting 78.9 percent of its shots from the free-throw line.
Fairfield scored the game’s first three points on a trey by Needham and Olander, Barrow and Sanders scored hoops in an opening stretch where the Stags took their early 11-0 lead. Fairfield shot 55.6 percent from the floor and 50 percent (7-for-14) from behind the 3-point line in the game’s first 20 minutes and turned 12 Canisius turnovers into 18 points before the break, as the teams went into the locker room with the score reading 44-25 in favor of the Stags.
In the second half, Canisius was able to trim Fairfield’s cushion to 16 at 60-42 after Belardo drove the lane and laid one in the hoop, but the Stags scored the game’s next seven points to give themselves a 65-42 lead with 7:07 left on the clock.
Canisius will return to action Thursday, Jan. 5, when the team travels to play at Saint Peter’s in Jersey City, N.J. The game will be shown live on ESPN3, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: This was the 73rd all-time meeting between these two schools, and Fairfield leads the series 43-30… Canisius played on Nedw Year’s Day for the first time since 1972 and fell to 8-10 all-time when playing on the first day of the calendar year… Washington is now 14-for-16 from the foul line in the team’s last two games… Manhertz pulled down a total of 29 rebounds on the two meetings with Fairfield this season, an average of 14.5 per contest… He is averaging 12 rebounds per game in the Griffs’ last three outings, dating back to Dec. 22 against Loyola (Chicago)… Sophomore Reggie Groves matched a career-high with four steals for the Blue and Gold.