Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Senegalese Sensation: Mamadou, Van Schaick lead Stags to Overtime Victory

Seniors Michael Van Schaick and Mamadou Diakhate literally willed the Fairfield Stags on Tuesday night in an exhilarating overtime win against Iona, 70-67.

The win makes it three wins in a row, as well as their second victory against the Iona Gaels in sixteen days.

The victory came on of the heels of a thrilling come-front-behind victory against Sienna. Fairfield now has three consecutive wins, all against MAAC opponents.

Despite facing a three-point deficit and an opposite court in-bound pass with only 24 seconds remaining in the game, Michael Van Schaick managed to find more than just a little breathing room.

After Van Schaick drove the lane and found himself double teamed, he hit a wide-open Momadou Diakhate in the corner. Diakhate responded in the situation, not too mention picked a fantastic time to net his first three-point shot of his season and the second in his Fairfield career.

“That situation, in overtime, we’ve been there before,” said Diakhate. “We’re all accountable.”

It was an amazing turn of events. Only a few brief seconds before, the game seemed to be out of reach late in the second half after a stunning run by Iona propelled by forwards Anthony Bruin and Alejo Rodriguez, both of whom posed problems defending against in the paint.

Bruin hit a lay-up, followed by two free throws from Rodriguez after an Anthony Johnson foul.
The game seemed done, but Van Schaick and Diakhate had other plans.

In spite of tying the game in the waning moments of regulation in dramatic fashion, the Stags struggled early in overtime and appeared to be reeling. Iona’s Devon Clark hit back-to-back free throws following a Mike Harris three-pointer to give Iona an early 67-64 lead

However, as they had all game, Fairfield managed to hang around. Senior Marty O’Sullivan grabbed an offensive board and added the put back to make it a three-point game.

The clear turning point in overtime came off of an inbound pass to Michael Van Schaick that appeared to be developing into an immediate shot attempt. After the senior guard from Glens Falls drew the double time, he dished a beautiful back door pass to forward Anthony Johnson. Johnson dunked the ball and gave the Stags back some much needed momentum.

On the ensuing play, the Stags put on a full court press. The Gaels, who had immediate difficult dealing with the up-tempo pressure, turned the ball over to Diakhate.

Only a few moments later, Momadou was at it again, this time laying it up to give the Stags a 68-67 lead, one which they would not relinquish.

Despite Diaphone’s heroics, the story of the game was senior Michael Van Schaick.

Van Schaick continued his torrid run, finishing with 23 points and three rebounds, including several key free throws and great looks down the stretch. Van Schaick has now scored double figures in an amazing ten straight games, including two 20+ point efforts in His newfound consistency and presence on the court has coincided with the Stags’ latest string success

“That is some stretch he is on,” Cooley commented after the game. “I am so proud of him. “I’m missing him already and the season’s not even over.”

After the game, Van Schaick downplayed his efforts as just a part of the game. To him, the main story was a third straight win.

“This team has grown up a lot. We’re very persistent,” said Van Schaick.

“We’re learning how to win.”

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