By Christopher Boulay
BRIDGEPORT, CONN. – The CCSU men’s basketball team lost their season opener to Fairfield 67-58, in the inaugural Connecticut 6 Tournament last Thursday.
Vince Rosario and Robbie Ptacek led the way for the Blue Devils (0-1) with 15 points each, but it was not enough to hold off a strong Fairfield (1-0) squad. Rosario and Ptacek were CCSU’s biggest threat from the three-point line going 3-9 and 2-3, respectively.
Shemik Thompson added nine points for the Blue Devils, as well as leading the team in assists, with four.
“We played hard, we just got killed down low,” Thompson said.
CCSU never led during the game, and the closest the team was to taking the lead was a one-point deficit midway through the first half.
Without the team’s talisman, Ken Horton, who is out for the year with a hip injury and is redshirted, the Blue Devils needed a big game from Thompson. With 6:56 left in the first half, Thompson had recorded two fouls, which made him sit for the rest of the half. This was a huge blow to CCSU, as they were never able to recover.
“It wasn’t a good foul, I shouldn’t have fouled him.” Thompson said.
The Blue Devils were down 26-24 at the point of Thompson’s foul, but by halftime, the Stags went on a 14-6 run, making the comeback in the second half a daunting task against a much bigger Fairfield team.
The Blue Devils trailed 40-30 at halftime, and also missed David Simmons’ presence, as he was not able to play due to bronchitis. Thompson was not completely healthy because of the same illness, but was able to contribute for 29 minutes.
While CCSU did outscore Fairfield in fast break points, eight to six, the Blue Devils missed many opportunities throughout the game to finish on the fast break, one of the main reasons the team had trouble trying to come back in the second half.
Regarding the fast break miscues, Coach Howie Dickenmann believed that there were many shots that the team should have made, but just didn’t go their way.
“I don’t know, maybe. Perhaps,” Dickenmann said. “We didn’t finish some shots that we could have made, didn’t, and looked like we were gonna make those shots.”
The Blue Devils were out-rebounded 36-22 by the Stags, another gulf in the stat sheet that led to the loss. Height has been a large criticism of the basketball team entering the season opener, as Joe Efese is the tallest active player, at six-feet six-inches.
“We don’t have a lot of height, but it’s not an excuse. We have some heart, and we have to display it more,” Dickenmann said. “We need to be tenacious when it comes to rebounding. We have the players develop the attitude that nobody is going to get that ball but me.”
Anthony Johnson led the way for the Stags, scoring 18 points and nine rebounds. Derek Needham added 14 points and four rebounds for Fairfield.
CCSU had many problems scoring throughout the game, with a field goal percentage of only 38.6.
The Blue Devils were destroyed in the paint by the Stags, as they were outscored 42-16.
The tournament will move from the Arena at Harbor Yard to the Mohegan Sun Arena for next year.
The Blue Devils’ losing streak continued as they were defeated by Savannah State Monday night.
CCSU is on the road for five more games before returning home Dec. 12 to host University of New York at Albany.