Fairfield (10-6) at Loyola-Maryland (11-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, January 11, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reitz Arena (3,000) -- Baltimore, Maryland. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Fairfield 2-1, Loyola 6-2. Away Record: Fairfield 5-5, Loyola 2-3. Neutral Record: Fairfield 3-0, Loyola 3-0. Conference Record: Fairfield 2-2, Loyola 3-1. Series Record: Fairfield leads, 36-17.
GAME NOTES: The Fairfield Stags and Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds will be wrestling for position in the early season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings when they collide at Reitz Arena on Friday.
Despite having four players score in double figures, the Stags had their six- game winning streak come to a close on Saturday as they were defeated, 71-67, at Niagara. The setback dropped their overall record to 10-6 including .500 marks in both road and conference tilts. Fairfield fell to the Purple Eagles after an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance. It held all of its opponents during its six-game streak to 60 points or less before allowing Niagara to break the trend.
After the Gaels clipped Marist by four points on Thursday, Iona jumped in front of Loyola, Canisius, and Niagara by a half-game to most likely momentarily claim sole possession of first place in the league standings. The Greyhounds took a brief trip outside of conference action to close out 2012, but they were dealt lopsided defeats by Bucknell and Memphis. The new year has been good to Loyola so far, as it downed Rider by six points before its 74-58 decision over Saint Peter's on Sunday to improve to 11-5 overall.
This will be the 54th meeting between Fairfield and Loyola with the Stags holding a 36-17 edge in the series which began with Fairfield's 100-89 win during the 1977-78 season.
The Stags did exceed their usual output versus Niagara offensively as well by hitting 52.8 percent of their field goal attempts and recording 19 assists. They could have done even more damage, but 21 turnovers and a 6-of-15 performance at the free throw line destroyed their chances of a victory. Derek Needham led four Stags in double figures with a team-high 13 points. Keith Matthews contributed 12 points, while Colin Nickerson and Desmond Wade added 11 points. The collective effort was unusual however, as Needham is the only Stag scoring in double-figures (14.3).
Three Greyhounds scored 17 or more points, and Loyola used a pair of lengthy runs to defeat Peacocks with ease in the hosts last appearance. Erik Etherly finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks while Dylon Cormier and Robert Olson tallied 18 and 17 points, respectively. While Loyola is producing 65.5 ppg, Cormier (17.6 ppg), Etherly (15.7 ppg), and Olson (11.8 ppg) are responsible for 73.4 percent of the offense to carry the squad. Although coach Jimmy Patsos could stand to see more balance on the offensive end, his squad is getting by due to its MAAC-low allowed average of just 61.1 ppg.
Needham looked like he might be a future candidate for MAAC Player of the Year after he averaged 16.4 points and 5.2 assists per contest as a freshman. The senior guard has not reached those season averages since his rookie year, but Fairfield will need that of him against tough defensive units like Loyola.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Maryland 67, Fairfield 58
01/11 10:35:08 ET