Derek Needham kept his career alive at least one more night, scoring 24 points as Fairfield advances to MAAC Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Post)
Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson's opening statement:
"I'm just proud of the guys, I thought they showed a ton of heart. We've had our backs against the wall over the last few games, but they played inspired basketball, so it kind of willed us to win."
Fairfield forward Maurice Barrow on Derek Needham:
"He steps up and tries to keep going. He's made big shots in the past to win big games."
Fairfield guard Derek Needham (24 points) on his approach:
"We just told ourselves to keep going. It's the MAAC Tournament, and it's going to be a long game."
Sydney Johnson on his team:
"They're a joy to coach, they work so hard...they're just fun to be around."
Johnson on his quarterfinal matchup with Rider:
"Kevin (Baggett, Rider's head coach) has done a great job. We've been successful against them, but everyone knows this is a different game now."
Maurice Barrow on the win:
"It gives us momentum heading into our next game. We can't slack off."
Saint Peter's head coach John Dunne's opening statement:
"I think my guys, regardless of what's gone on this year, have come out fighting game in and game out. I'm so proud of them, I can't tell you. I'm really going to miss coaching them, they never gave up."
On Fairfield's keys to victory:
"Their offensive rebounding and pursuit of the ball clearly made a difference down the stretch. The microcosm of the year was just getting cold down the stretch."
On Fairfield's defense:
"It was good. They don't let you get to the rim, and they take away your strengths."
Saint Peter's guard Desi Washington (13 points) on his team's mindset:
"We didn't want to come out and end the season tonight, especially for our senior guys. Once we got down, we just dug down and stuck together, and got back in the game."
John Dunne putting the season in perspective:
"I'm sad to see the season over, regardless of our record. Our guys worked hard every day. Losing isn't easy, and our guys revealed their character through it. I'm really, really proud of them."
Nuggets of Note:
- Fairfield ended the game on a 10-1 run after Saint Peter's made their final field goal on a Chris Burke jumper with 5:46 remaining. The Peacocks missed each of their final seven attempts from the field, and scored their lone point in the stretch run on a Blaise Ffrench free throw.
- The "good" Derek Needham (as described by Bill Paxton, who does excellent work covering Fairfield for the Connecticut Post) showed up tonight when the Stags needed him more than ever after their offensive struggles in recent games. Needham had one of his better performances of the season, scoring 24 points, with 14 of them coming in the second half, including six on a pair of three-pointers in the first 4:09 after the intermission.
- Lost in the shuffle tonight will be two things: 1) Freshman Amadou Sidibe, named MAAC co-Rookie of the Year in Thursday night's award ceremony, led all players with 13 rebounds; and 2) Even though Fairfield won the game, Saint Peter's controlled the tempo throughout the night, forcing the Stags to play at their pace and taking them out of their element in the first half and most of the second as well.
- He never gets enough credit for it by virtue of Saint Peter's records in recent years, but John Dunne is a brilliant basketball mind that does about as phenomenal a job of doing more with less as anyone in the country. There is no team that plays as hard as the Peacocks do on a nightly basis, and he; along with his coaching staff, deserves much more credit than what they receive.
- Finally, Fairfield advances to face Rider at 7:30 pm on Saturday in the quarterfinals, with the winner to square off against either Loyola or Manhattan on Sunday in the semifinal round. Despite earning the No. 2 seed in the regular season, Rider was swept by the Stags in both of their regular season matchups, with Fairfield's most recent of the two victories being a 69-59 decision on February 1st at the WebsterBank Arena in Bridgeport.