Fairfield Spoils Maryland-Eastern Shore’s Home Opener with 113 – 74 Win

Marcus Gilbert and the Fairfield Stags went into Hytche Arena and played the role of spoiler, ruining the home opener for Maryland-Eastern Shore to the tune of a 113 - 74 victory on Tuesday night.
Marcus Gilbert and the Fairfield Stags went into Hytche Arena and played the role of spoiler, ruining the home opener for Maryland-Eastern Shore to the tune of a 113 – 74 victory on Tuesday night.

After three tough road contests to open the 2015-16 season, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks were looking forward to playing in the friendly confines that is better known as Hytche Arena. In the first of back-to-back home games, the Hawks were looking to notch their first victory of the year after going 0 – 3 on the road trip.

They welcomed Marcus Gilbert and the Fairfleid Stags to town, and plenty of UMES fans were out to show their support for their hometown team. Despite their 1 – 3 record, the Stags weren’t going to make things easy for the Hawks.

Fairfield embraced the role of ‘spoiler’ on Tuesday night, and came away with a big victory over the Hawks. Fairfield used a big first half to put separation between them and the Hawks, and then piled on the points in the second half en route to the 113 – 74 victory.

From start to finish, the Fairfield Stags held the lead in the contest. Marcus Gilbert opened the scoring for the visitors in the opening minute, before Dominique Elliott got the home team on the board and tied the game at 2 – 2.

That was the last time the game would be tied, as Fairfield took the lead shortly thereafter and never looked back. The Hawks would cut the lead to 1 at the 14:36 mark of the first half on a layup and free throw from Elliott, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.

A cold spell for the Hawks from the field allowed the Stags to stretch the lead to double-figures as the first half wore on. The Hawks were held without a point for over 8 minutes, and the drought was tough to overcome for the hometown team.

Despite the deficit, the Hawks continued to fight as they tried to get back into the contest. Three pointers from both Dontae Caldwell and Mark Blackmon cut the deficit to 47 – 26 at the half.

The second half started out with more of the same for both sides, as each would trade baskets before the Stags would go on the attack once again. Fairfield always had an answer for the Hawks when they tried to make an offensive attack, but the Hawks did not have the firepower that the Stags brought with them on this night.

Fairfield was almost methodical in their offensive gameplan, slowly but surely piling up the points on UMES over the course of the second half. The Hawks were simply out-matched from start to finish, and they could never gain any momentum.

The second half was a mere formality, and the Stags cruised to the easy 113 – 74 victory.

For Fairfield, five different players reached double-figures. Marcus Gilbert scored a game-high 32 points to go along with 7 rebounds in the victory, while Jerry Johnson added 19 points of his own.

Tyler Nelson flirted with a triple-double for the Stags, recording 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists to help pace the Fairfield.

As for the Hawks, they couldn’t muster much of anything on the offensive end in the loss. Devin Martin scored a team-high 15 points, while Dominique Elliott and Bakari Copeland each scored 9 points.

The win for the Fairfield Stags (2 – 3) was a complete performance, as they looked good on both ends of the floor. They will look to build off the win next time out, their second victory in a row, when they take on Columbia on Friday night.

As for the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (0 – 4), they are looking to regain the magic that they had last season in their remarkable turnaround season. They will get another shot to notch their first win of the season on Friday afternoon when they welcome Saint Francis (PA) to the Hytche Arena.

– T.B.