Fairfield tops Washington for first time in four years
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield did the little things. Washington did not.
In a rivalry game decided by just a few points, that made all the difference on Friday in Fairfield.
The Trojans won their first game over rival Washington in more than four seasons, holding the Demons to 11 total points in the first half en route to a 43-38 victory in Southeast Conference boys’ basketball action.
The win was the first of the season for the Trojans, who hadn’t beaten Washington since Jan. 18, 2008, when they won 81-74. It was the fourth loss of the season for the Demons and their third straight.
“The win is huge because they know Washington so well. The first teams they see are these guys, so to go and get a win against a team that’s traditionally a hard-working, well-coached one is great,” said Tyler Miklo, who is in his third season as Fairfield’s head coach.
Senior Spencer Peterman guided the Trojans with 12 points. Junior Matt Carr scored nine, while juniors Landon Gamrath and Vince Horras netted six apiece.
After falling behind early, Fairfield (1-3, 1-1 SEC) led the final 25 minutes.
Missed opportunities and cold shooting plagued the Demons (1-4, 0-1 SEC) the entire night after initially taking a 4-0 lead. The Trojans didn’t score until the three-minute mark in the first quarter, but their defense kept Washington off-balance.
“We didn’t shoot it very well and Fairfield caused us problems at times,” Washington head coach Bryce Smeins said. “I didn’t think we shot very well from the perimeter, didn’t shoot very well from the [free-throw] line, and then we missed some layups in there and turned it over, so a combination of events led us to score 38 points.”
A 3-pointer by Carr gave Fairfield its first points in the first quarter, and back-to-back buckets by Darrin Dimmitt and Gamrath handed the Trojans a 7-6 lead. A second 3-pointer by Carr gave Fairfield a 10-6 advantage headed into the second period.
Fairfield built onto its lead at the start of the second, as Peterman scored six straight points and the Trojans took a 17-6 advantage. A nearly seven-minute scoreless stretch for Washington spanning the quarters finally came to an end when senior Michael Hall scored two, but Fairfield held the Demons to three more points in the half’s final four minutes.
“We switched defenses up on them in the second quarter, and they struggled for most of the quarter,” Miklo said. “That led to some good opportunities for us.”
The Demons, who trailed 22-11 at halftime, more than doubled their point total in the third period but failed to cut into the deficit. Washington senior Justin Hoffman scored the first two points in the half from the charity stripe, senior Kyle Roder hit a trey and sophomore Thomas Bump hit another pair of free throws to cut Fairfield’s lead to 23-18. The Trojans fought back, however, and again grabbed a double-digit lead by the end of the period.
Washington again rallied in the final quarter, cutting the deficit to four with two minutes to go. Three straight steals by Washington ended with multiple missed layups and no points to show for their efforts in the final minute.
“We gave ourselves a chance. We just didn’t get it done,” Smeins said.
The Demons were led by Hoffman’s 12 points, and Roder added 10.
As disappointed as Smeins was with his team’s offensive production, he had no qualms with their defensive intensity.
“If we can hold teams to the 40s and 50s we’ll be in every game we play, and I thought defensively we played OK tonight,” he said. “It was just the other end where we weren’t very good.”