FAIRFIELD, Conn. – If there is one thing Notre Dame of Fairfield’s boys basketball team learned last season, it was how to win tight games. The Lancers provided further evidence of that in their season-opener on Thursday.
Dan Upchurch scored 36 points and the Lanchers overcame a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes to stun Kaynor Tech of Waterbury, 75-70, in the opening round of the South-West Conference Tipoff Tournament at Notre Dame. The Lancers meet Bunnell Friday at 7:30 p.m. for the championship.
Notre Dame went 21-6 last season and got to the semifinals of the Class M tournament before losing to eventual champion Waterford. The Lancers won four games that were decided by five points or less in 2011-12. “They’ve been in the wars before,’’ coach Vin Laczkoski said.
Thursday’s game was tight most of the way until Kaynor Tech, which Notre Dame defeated in the quarterfinals of the state tournament last year, used a 12-3 spurt to take a 66-59 lead with 3:04 to play.
Notre Dame scored the next six points to get close. After a Kaynor basket, Jaylen Jennings’ three-pointer with 1:42 tied it, and C.J. Davidson’s three-point play with 1:31 gave Notre Dame the lead for good.
Earl Coleman also delivered a couple of big plays down the stretch for Notre Dame, stealing an inbounds pass and getting a tie-up on a rebound to give the Lancers an important possession. Upchurch went 4-for-4 at the foul line in the final 21 seconds to ice it.
Coleman added 15 points for Notre Dame, while Davidson added 13.
“Kaynor Tech is a very good basketball team,’’ Laczkoski said. “To win a game like this to start the season is nice.”