Men’s Basketball played in two games the past week, starting with a 76-66 win over Massachusetts to end a three game skid. A loss down in St. Louis followed, a 76-68 slugfest.
The Rams now sit at 13-12 on the season, but 4-10 in Atlantic 10 conference play. Mandell Thomas missed both games, bringing his total to five, in which the Rams are 1-4.
Wednesday night started with UMass dominating early. They led 18-9 with 9:51 to play in the first half. It seemed as though this game might go the way of the Rams’ previous efforts against St. Joseph’s and Richmond.
However, the next seven minutes were arguably the best Fordham has played all season. It started with junior guard Jon Severe hitting a three. He would add another three during the run, with sophomore guard Antwoine Anderson and sophomore forward Christian Sengfelder also hitting one apiece, as well as sophomore guard Nemanja Zarkovic adding a trio of threes. Add two-point field goals from Severe, freshman guard Joseph Chartouny and senior forward Ryan Rhoomes and you end up with a 27-0 run from which UMass would never recover. The Rams went from being down 18-9 to leading 36-18.
While the Minutemen would finally break their drought at just under the three-minute mark, an Anderson dunk as time expired put the exclamation point on the first half for the Rams, putting the score at 40-25.
“We’re starting to play better basketball at the offensive end,” said head coach Jeff Neubauer. “But the key to us getting ahead and playing with the lead was our defense holding UMass to 25 points in the first half.”
The Minutemen came out firing to start the second half, using an 8-0 run to cut the lead down to seven. However, the Rams once again benefitted from the three, as Sengfelder stopped the UMass run with one, bringing the Fordham lead back to 10.
The Rams were able to coast the rest of the way, rebuffing any attempt from UMass to shorten the lead, and end the game with a 76-66 win.
It was a total team effort for the Rams, with Chartouny, Sengfelder, Rhoomes, Severe and Zarkovic all having double-digit points. Chartouny paced the team with 16 points, along with eight assists. Rhoomes would add 13 rebounds to his 10 points for his seventh double double of the season.
The Rams outrebounded UMass 36-31, the 12th time this season they outrebounded their opponent (they are 10-2 in those games).
“Coach said in the beginning of the game that this needed to be a real good rebounding game for us, me and Christian,” said Rhoomes. “But to see Antwoine have five and Joe, who always rebounds, have five, it was good to see everyone rebounding productively.”
While everything seemed great for the Rams Wednesday night, it was an entirely different story in St. Louis on Saturday.
Both teams took a bit to get going, with the Rams leading just 9-5 after a full five minutes of play. That four point lead would be the Rams’ largest of the game.
After trading one point leads over the next few minutes, the Billikens took a 22-21 lead with 5:07 left in the half. They would never relinquish that lead.
The wheels came off for Fordham in the second half. The Rams came out flat, and St. Louis jumped out to an 11-point lead almost immediately. The Rams went almost five minutes before converting a field goal.
The Rams did, however, end up with a chance in this game. They broke out of their below-40 percent from the field slump by making 5-7 shots over a five minute stretch to pull the St. Louis lead down to just four points with just under three to play. However, the Billikens seemingly could not miss the rest of the way, especially not from the free throw line, as they hit 9-10 free throws to close the game.
While the Rams took care of the ball in the first half with just six turnovers, they lapsed into their old ways in the second, committing 10, for 16 in total, their most in a game since committing 18 against VCU on Jan. 13.
Three players for the Rams — Rhoomes, Sengfelder and Anderson — had double-digit points, with Rhoomes the only player with more than six rebounds with 10. In other words, the points of emphasis that led to the UMass win — multiple scoring threats, team rebounding and ball security — did not make the trip to St. Louis.
The Rams will look to climb out of 12th in the A-10 in their next game at La Salle on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.