LEWISBURG, Pa. – Maurice Barrow scored 15 points and Doug Chappell 13 to pace a big afternoon for the Fairfield bench, and the Stags defeated Bucknell 73-64 before a holiday crowd of 3,016 at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. Cameron Ayers led all scorers with 19 points and Steven Kaspar had 14 points and seven assists for the Bison, who head into Patriot League play with a 5-6 record.
While Bucknell struggled offensively for the second straight game, Fairfield (3-9) made some timely 3-pointers in the second half to break open a close game. It was just a two-point contest with 14 minutes to play, but Steve Smith came off the bench and drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to stretch the Stags’ lead up to eight.
Later in the half, reserve guard Sean Grennan hit a trey to push Fairfield’s five-point lead up to eight. Marcus Gilbert finished a drive to the basket with a dunk, and after Bucknell missed a front end of a 1-and-1, Doug Chappell – another reserve guard – canned a 3-pointer to give the Stags a 56-43 lead with 4:05 to play.
The Bison finally got some shots to drop in the final three minutes and were able to trim a 15-point deficit down to eight, but Fairfield made enough free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
“I thought we took some good shots that we were making earlier in the season that didn’t go in for us, especially early in the second half,” said head coach Dave Paulsen. “We had three or four layups that didn’t go in, and we had a few other potential layups where we couldn’t connect the pass. That can be demoralizing, but you have to bounce back. In the first half we hung tough and defended and showed some resolve when shots weren’t falling, but in the second half we lost guys in transition and didn’t identify shooters, and that really cost us.”
The Bison used a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the day at 16-13 midway through the opening half. Consecutive baskets by Gilbert and K.J. Rose put the Stags up four in the final minute, but Ayers hit a three just before the buzzer to pull Bucknell within 27-26 at the break. But the Bison missed their first four shots of the second half and were never able to recapture the lead.
Fairfield shot 52.2 percent in the second half and 43.4 percent for the game, while the Bison finished at 38.2 percent. Bucknell was 8-for-20 from 3-point range and 14-for-21 from the foul line. Fairfield made 7 of 19 from the arc and 20 of 28 from the line. The Stags received 42 of their 73 points from their bench.
Ayers made four of his seven 3-point tries, and he moved past Lorry Hathaway into 16th place on Bucknell’s career scoring list with 1,222 points. He also passed G.W. Boon for seventh place on the school’s career chart for made 3-pointers with 161.
Kaspar went 4-for-7 from the floor and got to the foul line a career-high 11 times, making six. Chris Hass added nine points, Ryan Frazier had eight and Dom Hoffman tallied seven points and a career-high nine rebounds.
Bucknell has nothing but Patriot League games remaining in the regular season, and three of the first four conference tilts will be played at home. First up is American on Jan. 2 at Sojka Pavilion at 7 p.m.