Maurice Barrow's layup with 10:08 to play broke a 41-41 tie and Fairfield led the rest of the way in posting a 64-54 MAAC win at Siena Monday night. Derek Needham scored a game-high 18 points to lead the Stags.
"This was a gutsy road win for us," Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson said. "Something like we were able to do earlier this season."
The Stags seem to have recaptured the early season form that saw them post a road win over Atlantic-10 favorite Saint Joseph's and home victories over Drexel, Central Connecticut and Milwaukee. They've won four straight MAAC games, the longest active win streak in the conference.
The first 30 minutes included 10 ties and 13 lead changes, and Siena's early 9-4 lead marked the largest advantage held by either team. But Fairfield had all the answers in crunch time.
Barrow's basket ignited a 10-3 run that put the Stags up 50-43 with eight minutes to play. Fairfield then used a 7-0 run less than two minutes later to build a 59-45 lead with 2:34 left, putting the game on ice.
"It became a real grind out game," Buonaguro said. "Their defense really bothered us. We just couldn't get anything going offensively."
Fairfield, the MAAC's top defensive team, held Siena to 33% shooting in the second half and 37% for the game. Aside from senior O.D. Anosike's 15 points and eight rebounds, the Saints struggled to score all night.
The Stags limited Siena's starting backcourt of Evan Hymes and Rakeem Brookins to 4-17 from the field. Hymes entered the game red-hot having averaged 20.7 points over the last three games, but he was just 1-7 from the field, his lone basket a 3-pointer with 36 seconds to play.
"(Evan) wasn't really feeling well," Buonaguro said. "He has a sore throat. It was obvious he wasn't himself. He didn't have the energy, and he's a high-energy guy."
Siena's starting five each played at least 34 minutes. The Saints had an opportunity to pull even with the Stags in the MAAC standings, but instead dropped to eighth.
"At this time of the year, I'm going to go with the guys I think can win games," Buonaguro said. "This was the same team that beat Manhattan the other night, and tonight we just didn't make shots."
Siena plays its next three games on the road - at Loyola Friday night, at Saint Peter's Sunday and at Fairfield next Thursday. The Stags have five straight at home, the first four against the bottom three teams in the conference standings.
"I think they're every bit as good as anyone in the league," Buonaguro said of Fairfield.