Jersey City, NJ - Looking at this game from a tempo free perspective, it was definitely a statistical anomaly. Saint Peter’s had a decisive lead in the offensive rebounding percentage and turnover rate categories, yet came up short. The Peacock dropped their fifth straight with a 56-52 setback at the hands of Fairfield. Sunday’s MAAC game at Run Baby Run Arena saw Saint Peter’s drop to 7-11 (2-7) while Fairfield improved to 7-10 (3-4).
Offensive efficiency: Fairfield 97, Saint Peter’s 90
Rebounding. In the offensive rebounding (OREB percentage) the Peacocks held a 54-24% advantage. In raw numbers, Saint Peter’s won the offensive glass by a 29-4 margin. Jayden Saddler (6), a 6’1" guard, and 6’9" Mouhamed Sow (5) pulled down more offensive boards than the entire Fairfield team. Offensive rebounds are vital as they extend possessions, often create a close in shots and are liable to get opponents in foul trouble. Saint Peter’s was dominant in the area of getting second and sometimes third shots. On the afternoon the Peacocks attempted 39 more field goals than the visiting Stags. The downside, they were only able to register only ten second chance points.
Turnovers. Saint Peter’s forced Fairfield into 16 turnovers while committing nine of their own. In tempo free language, Fairfield’s TO rate was 28% to 14% of the Peacocks. Teams strive to keep their turnovers under the 20% mark while harassing the opposition into a 20%-plus rate. "We wanted to pressure them especially with their starting point guard (Caleb Fields, hip injury) out," Saint Peter’s coach Bashir Mason said. It was effective as Saint Peter’s enjoyed a 17-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
Second half run. Fairfield trailed 31-24 at intermission. The initial ten minutes of the final stanza saw coach Jay Young’s group go on a 23-7 spurt to turn that deficit into a nine point lead. Stags handled Saint Peter’s pressure better during that stretch and their offense came alive. Saint Peter’s had opportunities, especially inside thanks to their rebounding, but couldn’t capitalize.
Spread the wealth. Saint Peter’s had two players, Saddler and Isiah Dasher score field goals in the second half. Obviously complimentary scoring was, and is, needed. Those final twenty minutes Saint Peter’s scored seven field goals with Saddler hitting four and Dasher three.
Encouraged. Despite losing 75-69 at Iona on Friday, Fairfield came in with an upbeat attitude. "We gave them (Iona) a game and made a good run. Without (Caleb) Fields it was difficult to get the win," Fairfield assistant coach Chris Casey said prior to tipoff Sunday. Casey views the MAAC as wide open at this point. "Iona is at the top," Casey conceded, "but I do not think they are as good as last year’s (Iona) team. It’s going to be an interesting time in Atlantic City (MAAC Tournament)."
Numbers: Fairfield shot 19 of 37 for a season best 51%. Saint Peter’s was limited to 28% (21-76). Leading scorer was Fairfield’s Jake Wojick with 17, including four key free throws in the final minute to seal the verdict. Saint Peter’s was led by Dasher with 13 and Saddler 12.
Saint Peter’s won the overall rebounding battle 42-29. Sow and Saddler tied for game rebounding honors with seven apiece.
Game had seven ties and four lead changes.
Why a Stag? The question was posed by my wife Karen. Why is Fairfield, relatively close in proximity to New York City, nicknamed after a deer? Drew Kingsley, the Fairfield media contact, explained. "There is an area near Fairfield with a large deer population so the teams were named the Stags." Kingsley continued, "North of us is Quinnipiac. They have a bobcat reserve not too far from their campus so they assumed the nickname of Bobcats." Interesting information and thank you Drew.
MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor took in the action and was a press row neighbor of yours truly. Ensor is a Saint Peter’s alum and we enjoyed reflecting on Saint Peter's basketball, past and present.
"This is difficult. We have a lot of guys who have not been here before. But they are playing hard." - Bashir Mason
"We found a way to win and that’s the most important thing. I’m proud of the way we thought back." - Jay Young