Sydney Johnson, Jamel Fields

Fairfield, Webster Bank Arena sign five-year deal through 2016-17

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On Thursday it was announced that Fairfield University and Webster Bank Arena came to terms on a deal that means the Stags will continue playing their home games there until the end of the 2016-17 season.

Fairfield, who prior to moving into the Bridgeport arena in 2001 played all of their home games on campus at Alumni Hall, holds an overall record of 83-53 while going 29-8 at home over the last three seasons.

Remaining in Webster Bank Arena will help Sydney Johnson and his staff as they look to get the Stags back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997.

“If you look at what’s been accomplished, specifically over the last couple of years, it shows how the foundation was built very solidly by moving the program ahead,” athletic director Gene Doris said.

“But we wouldn’t have been able to move the program ahead if Tim O’Toole didn’t take the risk to come here. And while Tim might not have benefited from the move, (the program’s) continued to move along, and we’re in a position now where we can be (a) Siena in our league.

“And I don’t know if we’d be able to do that without the partnership of this building.”

Fairfield loses Ryan Olander and Rakim Sanders from a team that reached the MAAC tournament final but they should once again contend in the MAAC due to their perimeter firepower.

Derek Needham, Colin Nickerson and Desmond Wade will all be seniors, and forward Maurice Barrow could be ready to emerge as one of the MAAC’s best players inside.

Having an attractive home to sell to recruits will only help Johnson and his staff as they look to bring Fairfield a championship.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: