The Fairfield University basketball team beat Holy Cross 68-63 in overtime on Tuesday night, giving coach Jay Young his first win with the school.
“It (the first win) feels good and it’s certainly better than the alternative,” Young said. “I said if we can get on that bus up one and go back to Fairfield with a win than we had a heck of a night. I am proud of our guys because it was a grind. They (Holy Cross) are really good on offense and I think our guys did a really good job covering them.”
Fairfield’s Jesus Cruz scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Stags (1-2) while Taj Benning added-13 points and a team-best six rebounds.
The game featured 13 lead changes and six ties with neither team leading by more than eight points.
With the score tied at 58 after regulation, the Stags and the Crusaders couldn’t find any points through the first minute plus of the extra period. Cruz scored the first points of overtime at the 3:28 mark and followed with another basket on the next possession to push Fairfield in front for good at 62-58.
After Holy Cross cut the lead in half with its first points of overtime, Benning hit a short jumper with the shot clock running down to regain a two possession lead with 39 seconds left. After a Crusaders miss, Benning was fouled and sank both free throws for a 66-60 lead.
Holy Cross’ Drew Lowder (16 points) made a long 3-pointer to give the home team hope but Benning was fouled on the next possession and ended the game with a pair of free throws with two seconds left.
“Taj struggled a little bit early in the game but then he came down with a huge basket down the stretch when we had nothing going on and then finished by making his free throws at the end so he was really big for us,” Young said. “He played 42 minutes tonight after playing all those minutes against UMass so he has certainly earned his day off.”