By Jack McLoone
After finishing in the top 10 of the Atlantic 10, Fordham, the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament, was able to bypass the first round of games and took on Richmond on Thursday in the second round. Unfortunately for the Rams, they were unable to reverse the trend of falling to the Spiders this season, losing 70-55 in a game where the score was not truly indicative of how close it became.
The Rams started out well. Freshman guard and reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year Joseph Chartouny drove the lane for a quick layup, which, along with a layup from senior forward Ryan Rhoomes, gave the Rams a 4-0 lead within the first two minutes. It ended up being Fordham’s largest lead of the game, and they did not hold it for long.
Two minutes later, Shawdre’ Jones hit a jumper for the Spiders and gave them a 7-6 lead. They held this lead for the rest of the game, although Fordham did manage to threaten on a few occasions throughout the game.
After taking that lead, the Spiders went on a 19-8 run over the next eight minutes, putting the score at 26-14 with 8:55 left in the half. Eventually, Richmond extended their lead to 17 points, the largest deficit of the half. The halftime score was 38-22 in favor of the Spiders, and the Rams appeared to be down and out.
The Rams’ defense in the first half was not indicative of their performance in their season under head coach Jeff Neubauer. They overran on helps and bit on pump fakes. Quick ball movement around the perimeter left the defense in the lurch as the players chased the ball instead of staying home on their marks. Richmond was able to make 64 percent of their field goal attempts, including four of nine from three. The Rams forced just four turnovers.
On the offensive side of the ball, the only consistent producer for Fordham was Chartouny. The Rams hit just eight field goals in the first half, and Chartouny had four of them, two of which were threes. He had 12 points in the first half, while no one else for the Rams had more than four.
Throughout the game, it was clear that Rhoomes was trying to light a fire in his teammates, and he seemed to have done it in the locker room between halves. The Rams exploded out of the gate, going on a 17-4 run over the first five minutes to bring the lead all the way down to three points from 16. Rhoomes sparked the run, picking up eight points and four rebounds over that span. Two of those rebounds were offensive, resulting in three-point play opportunities that he took advantage of.
After a jumper from senior guard Mandell Thomas and a quick Rhoomes layup on their next possession, the Rams trailed by just one. Richmond led 46-45 with 8:42 left.
While the Rams were unable to get over the hump and recapture the lead, they once again pulled within three to make it 51-48 with 5:03 left. However, the wheels started to come off for the Rams from there, and Richmond closed the game on 19-7 run, resulting in a Richmond 70-55 win.
The Rams were inconsistent on offense, and it ended up being their downfall. The run to open the second half was built on Rhoomes’ work down low on the block. He had those eight points, but they seemed reluctant to go back to him once the score was closer, preferring to attempt outside shots. The problem was that the Rams had been missing from deep for the whole game. That happens from time to time, but when it does, a team’s offensive gameplan has to adjust. Rhoomes scored just six more points in the rest of the game. They shot better overall from the floor, making 46 percent of their field goals, but they still failed to convert from deep, making just two of 10 three attempts.
The other issue for Fordham in the second half was turnovers. Chartouny had trouble inbounding in the second half, throwing the ball directly into the hands of the Richmond defense three separate times and having five turnovers in total in the second half.
Rhoomes finished the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double in a row. Chartouny led all scorers with 19 points. However, they were the only Rams in double digits, a problem they have had all season and something they had improved upon during their four game winning streak.
However, Fordham is not quite done yet. It will be playing in the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament, giving seniors Rhoomes and Thomas and graduate student Ryan Canty at least one more game. This will mark Fordham’s first appearance in the CIT, a tournament that dates back to 2009. Their first round game will be at home on Wednesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. against Boston University.