Men’s Basketball Falls to ETSU, Rebounds with Victory over Maine

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Men’s Basketball Falls to ETSU, Rebounds with Victory over Maine

Perris Hicks put up seven points in 27 minutes in the OT win over Maine. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Perris Hicks put up seven points in 27 minutes in the OT win over Maine. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Perris Hicks put up seven points in 27 minutes in the OT win over Maine. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Perris Hicks put up seven points in 27 minutes in the OT win over Maine. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

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Perris Hicks put up seven points in 27 minutes in the OT win over Maine. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

By Alvin Halimwidjaya

This past week, Fordham Men’s Basketball muddled through another split, following up an 82-77 loss to Eastern Tennessee State on Wednesday, Nov. 29 with a 67-66 overtime win against Maine on Saturday, Dec. 2. Fordham’s record is now 3-4 as we start to end the fall semester.

Fordham’s offense was on point against ETSU, shooting 50 percent from the field and featuring three players with more than 15 points: senior guard Will Tavares led the team with a career-high 21 points, sophomore guard Tre Evans notched a season-high 17 points and junior forward Prokop Slanina dropped 16 to round out the bulk of the scoring load.

“Offensively, this is easily the best we’ve played this year,” head coach Jeff Neubauer said. “We had a lot of guys contribute. We certainly had a few possessions that, if we could have them back, we definitely would like them back, but offensively, this is as good as we’ve been, and there are several reasons for that. Prokop was very good inside, Will made some very tough shots, our value for the ball was reasonable. So the point being, our team’s gotta be a defensive team. The way for us to win is with defense.”

The defensive side of the floor was where the Rams struggled. East Tennessee shot 53 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.

“[ETSU] players simply drove it to wherever they wanted to go, and rose up and made jumpshots,” Neubauer said. “…We weren’t able to guard the ball in the zone either.”

After being down 33-28 coming out of halftime, the Rams kept chipping away at the lead, and a Slanina jumpshot brought them to within three, 41-38, with 15:35 to go; an 11-2 run by ETSU promptly pushed the deficit back to 12, placing the Rams on the wrong side of the 52-40 scoreboard with 12:34 left.

The Rams eventually pulled within two points, as an Evans layup brought the game to 71-69 with 1:45 left on the clock. However, East Tennessee kept hitting their free throws despite the Rams jumping into the slog of intentional fouling.

“The other way to look at this is that ETSU is an NCAA tournament team, and last year they beat us by 36, and quite honestly, it wasn’t even that close,” Neubauer added. “… however, as we try to define it for our players, it needs to be an understanding that we’ve got to be better one on one defensively, and East Tennessee State was really good today.”

Coming off that loss, Fordham went into a matchup against Maine, heading straight into another tight contest.

“We did talk to our team about what a grind this game would be,” Neubauer explained. “And what I meant by that was you know, Maine’s record is not that pretty because of the schedule they’ve played; however, their defense has been really consistent and actually, including this game, the last three games has really improved, and they’ve been rock solid. So they have had their struggles offensively, but defensively Maine really does guard.”

The spotlight on Fordham’s bounce back win belonged to Chartouny, who poured in 12 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, as well as four more in the overtime period. He rounded out his stellar performance with a career-high 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Joining him in double-digit scoring was Slanina and Tavares with 15 points each.

“Joe Chartouny certainly played well down the stretch [and the] second half,” Neubauer said. “The same thing that I said in the last press conference, is for two and a half years now, is Joe has done what his team has needed to win, and tonight certainly was more evidence of that.”

The score was close throughout the game, with both teams only able to pull away to a meager-five point lead at various points in the second half. Maine grabbed a three-point lead, 43-40, at the 10:17 mark, keeping the edge and pushing it to a five-point margin, 57-52, with 4:13 left. However, the Rams kept their composure and grabbed the lead back after a Chartouny three-point play on a fast break layup gave them a 60-57 advantage. After a responding three-pointer tied the game with 42 seconds to go, both teams failed to score through the remainder of regulation, sending the game to overtime.

After a three-minute scoring drought for both teams, Chartouny converted a layup to give Fordham a 62-60 lead with just under two minutes left. After exchanging free throws, Fordham led 65-63 with 14 seconds left. Chartouny sealed the win with a steal sandwiched between two trips to the line, where he hit two out of four free throws.

The Rams’ next game is on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Rose Hill Gym as  they take on Harvard.