Fordham Falls to UConn, 88-73, in Hartford

Branden Frazier’s 26 points kept Fordham from getting embarrassed, but the Rams still lost.

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora knew playing a team as talented as UConn would be a challenge.

“That should be fun,” he said after last week’s victory over Princeton when speaking about the impending game against UConn, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

The first half of Friday’s game must have been a lot of fun for UConn’s Ryan Boatright. The sophomore point guard had 20 points, seven assists and three steals for the Huskies in the first half, as they took a 57-28 lead into the locker room. Fordham made things interesting in the early part of the second half, but the massive halftime deficit proved too much to overcome and the Rams lost, 88-73.

UConn stretched its advantage to 63-31 a little less than two minutes into the second half, but Fordham responded by going on a 19-0 run over the next 5:21, cutting the UConn lead to 13 at 63-50.

“How is this happening?” asked one bewildered member of the UConn student section.

It was happening because of Branden Frazier. The junior Fordham guard followed up his tremendous performance against Princeton (13 consecutive points to lead the Rams back from a late deficit) with another impressive night. Frazier scored 26 points on 58.8 percent shooting, while adding five assists and four rebounds. He did, however, have six turnovers, which left Pecora disappointed.

“That’s unacceptable for a guard, in my opinion, especially a junior guard,” Pecora said. “I’m looking for everything out of him. If he’s going to turn out to be as good of a player as I think he is, it’s going to be because he’s able to respond to me being on him.”

Frazier helped keep things close, but Fordham was unable to cut the UConn lead to fewer than 13.

After a layup from Fordham senior forward Chris Gaston made it 63-50 with 12:53 left in the game, Boatright became visibly upset. After receiving the inbounds pass, he cursed loudly and smacked the ball in his hands before beginning to dribble up court. The crowd, sensing the game was still far from over, suddenly came to life. UConn’s 17-5 run over the next 6:51 put the Huskies up 80-55 with 6:02 remaining, and finally closed the door on any chance of a Fordham comeback.

“We let a good Fordham team get back into the game,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said. “We were on our way to a nice victory and they made it interesting.”