Canisius had a golden opportunity to prove itself as a contender in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Monday night. On the road, against Fairfield, the Griffs faced the conference's top team.
But after threatening for a while, Canisius (10-11, 4-7 MAAC) eventually let the upset slip away in a 70-55 defeat at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. Alshwan Hymes scored 16 points and Elton Frazier added 10.
Finding offense is always a struggle for Fairfield's opponents. The Stags boast the nation's No. 2 scoring defense, allowing just 55 points per contest. When it mattered most against Canisius, Fairfield's defense clamped down. The Griffs finished only 19 of 56 from the field (34 percent).
With 14:20 to go, Hymes hit a deep jumper to pull Canisius within three, 37-34. Then, moments later, a dunk by Frazier cut the deficit to one. That's as close as Canisius would get, however. After Hymes hit a three to slice Fairfield's lead to 47-45, Canisius scored only 10 points over the final 10 minutes.
Fairfield's heralded defense stepped up, quickly extending the lead. Over the decisive stretch, the Griffs only made three field goals.
Fairfield, which doesn't boast an explosive offense, has climbed to the top of the MAAC standings with a stifling defense. On Monday, the Stags were not necessarily stellar themselves on the offensive end, shooting just 41 percent.
But while Canisius sputtered in the second half, Fairfield got timely buckets in front of its home crowd.
Leading the way Monday was Maurice Barrow, who scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Derek Needham scored 17 points on 5 of 15 shooting as Yorel Hawkins chipped in 12. By winning its 10th conference game, Fairfield improved to 17-4 overall.
Canisius will return home to face Marist on Friday.