Mavericks down Devils, 78-65

OBSERVER Photo by Mary Ann Wiberg Fredonia’s Dante Williams (11) attempts a heavily contested jumper over two Maverick defenders in Saturday’s 78-65 loss to Medaille.

The Fredonia State Blue Devils men’s basketball team lost its home-opener to Medaille College, 78-65 on Saturday.

The Blue Devils (1-4) fell behind early, thanks to a 15-5 run for Medaille (2-2) making the score, 25-15. Fredonia went on its own run, scoring the next seven points which cut the deficit to only three. However, the Blue Devils were not able to complete the comeback, and entered halftime trailing, 35-29.

Fredonia’s tough start was due to two factors: shooting and turnovers. The Blue Devils shot 10-26 (38.5 percent) in the first half from the field, along with turning the ball over 12 times in the first half alone.

Medaille was outrebounded in the first half by Fredonia, but the Mavericks held the lead because of great shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Medaille was 7 for 13 (53.8 percent) from three in the first half.

Despite battling back from being down double-digits in the first half to be within one possession, Fredonia was unable to take the lead back. Medaille held a lead for more than 14 minutes in the first half.

The Mavericks’ impressive start was even more impressive taking into account that the game began more than an hour later than expected because of a scheduling issue involving the referees. Both Fredonia and Medaille were anticipating a 2:00 p.m. start time, when the game did not finally begin until well after 3:00 p.m.

“I was very pleased with how we responded to that,” said Medaille coach Mike Blaine. “We came out with great energy and attacked the problem.”

Medaille’s numbers would only improve in the second half. The Mavericks shot 13 for 24 from the field in the second half, 3 for 5 from beyond the arc, and 14-18 from the line in the second half. All three categories improved on their first half percentages.

Medaille led by as many as 14 points in the game, in addition to leading the entire second half. The key to that was a stellar second half from Medaille senior guard Justice Fagan. Despite being held to only three points in the first half, Fagan lit up the scoreboard after the intermission with 19 second-half points.

“We’re really at our best when we’re finding whoever’s got the hot hand,” said Blaine. “Justice did a great job finding space and we did a great job finding him.”

Fagan’s game-high 22 points came by shooting 5 for 7 from the field in the second half, along with a perfect 7 for 7 from the line, despite starting 1 for 5 from the field and 0 for 4 from the line in the first half.

“Fagan always has good games against us,” exclaimed Fredonia State coach Phil Seymore. “He got hot and we gave him too much space.”

Fredonia’s shooting from the field in the second half dipped from an already disappointing mark in the first half. Fredonia shot 11 for 30 from the field (36.7 percent) after the intermission, dropping the team’s total on the evening to 21 for 56 (37.5 percent) from the field for the game.

Fredonia believes a big reason for the shooting struggle was selfish play on offense.

“We just didn’t play together,” said Seymore.“We didn’t play as a team,” said Seymore.

Although the first home game of the year did not produce the result Blue Devils fans had hoped, Fredonia did have a few bright spots in the game. As a team, the Blue Devils did outrebound Medaille 40 to 30. Fredonia also decreased its turnovers from 12 in the first half to only seven in the second half — and defensively — Medaille’s top three scorers coming into the game were all held below their averages on the season.

Additionally, Fredonia State had four players in double figures in scoring, with two of the four registering double-doubles with rebounds. Dante Williams led Fredonia with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Ian Helps had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Kay Jackson (12 points) and Isaiah Ice (11 points) also scored in double-digits for the Blue Devils.

However, coming off its first win of the season on Wednesday, Fredonia was disappointed with how it opened the season at Steele Hall Fieldhouse.

“That’s not the way we’re supposed to play,” said Seymore. “We clearly could’ve won that game.”

Fredonia begins SUNYAC play in its next game, Dec. 1 at Plattsburgh.

Twitter: @bradencarmen