|Stags Halt Colonials in CIT Quarterfinals, 67-61|
Fairfield, Conn. - Fairfield shot 51 percent (26-for-51) from the field in building a 15-point lead in the second half and held off a furious rally by the Robert Morris University men's basketball team to earn a 67-61 victory over the Colonials Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament at Alumni Hall.
The Stags advance to the semifinals of the 2012 CIT in improving to 22-14 overall, while RMU concludes its 2011-12 campaign with an overall record of 26-11.
Colin Nickerson would give Fairfield a 49-34 advantage with 11:36 to play thanks to a fastbreak layup, and the Stags still led by double digits, 53-41, with 6:05 remaining before Robert Morris made a late push.
A 9-2 surge that featured six points from sophomore forward Mike McFadden (Newark, N.J. / Technology) and a three-pointer by sophomore guard Anthony Myers (Washington, D.C. / Charis Prep) helped the Colonials trim their deficit to 55-50 at the 2:45 mark of the second half.
Rakim Sanders would convert in the paint for Fairfield to help stem the tide and give the Stags a 57-50 lead, but a pair of free throws from redshirt junior guard Velton Jones (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic) and a three-point play by McFadden after a steal by Jones helped RMU close to within 57-55 with just 1:40 to play.
Fairfield again went for the high percentage shot, this time with Maurice Barrow converting a layup to push the edge for the Stags to 59-55.
Jones would hit a layup of his own to again make it a two-point contest, 59-57, but after a timeout, Ryan Olander scored with 58 seconds left and was fouled during the play by redshirt junior forward Russell Johnson (Chester, Pa. / Chester).
Olander would miss the opportunity for the three-point play, but Sanders came down with the offensive rebound and was immediately fouled by Johnson. Sanders would hit both of his free throws to give Fairfield a 63-57 cushion with just 56 ticks left on the clock.
Robert Morris would get no closer, as the Stags sealed the win by going 6-for-8 at the charity stripe in the final minute of regulation.
RMU jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the first half by hitting each of its four shots from the field, including five points from redshirt sophomore guard Coron Williams (Midlothian, Va. / Christchurch School).
However, the Colonials would shoot just 18.5 percent (5-for-27) the rest of the first half as Fairfield used a 13-1 surge to take a 33-18 lead with 5:06 left before the break. Robert Morris was able to trim its deficit to 11 at intermission, 36-25, but failed to get any closer until its final spurt.
McFadden paced the Colonials with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and also added seven rebounds.
Jones was the only other player to reach double figures for Robert Morris, finishing with 12 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals.
Barrow led Fairfield with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Sanders added 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Nickerson also finished with 14 points for the Stags.