GAME NOTES: Less than two weeks after their first meeting of the season, the Saint Peter's Peacocks and Fairfield Stags are ready for the rematch, this time at Fairfield's Webster Bank Arena.
Fairfield was a 61-54 road winner in that first meeting, and the Stags have won 15 of the last 16 meetings to take a 51-49 lead in the all-time series.
Saint Peter's has fallen to the bottom of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings thanks to losses in nine of its last 10 outings. The latest of those setbacks was Sunday's 57-49 decision to Manhattan. That loss was the fifth straight on the road for the Peacocks, who have only two home games remaining on their schedule.
Meanwhile, Fairfield has rebounded from a season-long five-game slide by winning each of its last four games. Most recently, the Stags earned a 64-54 victory at Siena this past Monday. They have a chance to gain some ground in the MAAC standings as tonight's contest opens a key five-game homestand.
Saint Peter's forced 19 turnovers and held Manhattan to 32.4-percent shooting from the floor on Sunday. However, the Peacocks shot just 34.5 percent themselves, and they were whistled for 24 fouls as the Jaspers capitalized with a 30-of-36 effort from the free-throw line. Desi Washington had a team- high 16 points in the loss, while teammate Yvon Raymond finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Washington has headlined the roster this season with a team-best 14.4 points per game. He has started all 22 games so far, and his 58 3-pointers are more than the rest of the team combined. Raymond is the Peacocks' only other double-digit scorer, averaging 10.5 points to go along with a team-high 5.4 rebounds. Out of 345 teams in NCAA Division I, Saint Peter's ranks 338th in free-throw percentage (.597), and that's an area that has proved costly time and again throughout the season.
Leading the way for Fairfield is guard Derek Needham, who averages 14.6 ppg and is the team's only double-digit scorer. Needham is the only player on the squad to have started all 24 games, as coach Sydney Johnson has mixed and matched different starting lineup combinations from week to week. Lately, Johnson seems to have found the right mix during the team's current winning streak.
Playing on the road at Siena earlier this week, Needham led all scorers with 18 points, while Maurice Barrow scored 11 off the bench, and Amadou Sidibe finished with 10 points and six boards. The Stags held a key 14-8 edge on the offensive glass, and defensively they held Siena to 37-percent shooting from the floor. The game featured 10 ties and 13 lead changes until Fairfield pulled away late.
Fairfield beat Saint Peters on the road just 11 days ago, and the Stags have continued to play well since. Look for Needham and company to make it five in a row tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fairfield 58, Saint Peter's 54
02/07 10:34:55 ET
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