Men’s Basketball Gets in the Win Column Against UMass

The+Men%27s+Basketball+team+defeated+UMass+on+Saturday+to+get+their+first+win+since+January+3+against+Richmond.+%28Julia+Comerford%2FThe+Fordham+Ram%29
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Men’s Basketball Gets in the Win Column Against UMass

The Men's Basketball team defeated UMass on Saturday to get their first win since January 3 against Richmond. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

The Men's Basketball team defeated UMass on Saturday to get their first win since January 3 against Richmond. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

The Men's Basketball team defeated UMass on Saturday to get their first win since January 3 against Richmond. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

The Men's Basketball team defeated UMass on Saturday to get their first win since January 3 against Richmond. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

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by Alvin Halimwidjaya

The Men’s Basketball team defeated UMass on Saturday to get their first win since January 3 against Richmond. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

The Fordham Men’s Basketball team finally ended their six-game skid; after a tough loss to Rhode Island, the Rams broke through from long distance and beat Massachusetts at the Rose Hill Gym.

Fordham started their week with a A-10 home game against Rhode Island on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Ranked #24 in the nation, the similarly named Rams came into the Rose Hill Gym looking to avenge their previous game to Fordham, as they lost the teams’ last meeting 71-68.

However, despite Rhode Island’s 8-0 run to start the contest Fordham hung tough and managed to land a few punches of their own, eventually tying the game at 22 with 5:34 left off a three-pointer from freshman forward Ivan Raut.

Rhode Island ended the first period on a 14-5 run and the second half belonged to the visiting Rams, as Fordham would not get closer than nine points after halftime.

Fordham turned it over 23 times, which led to 35 points for Rhode Island. Senior guard Will Tavares led the team in scoring with 17 points, while junior forward Prokop Slanina added 13 points and junior forward David Pekarek chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds. Forward Andre Berry was the leader for Rhode Island, as he scored 20 points on 9-12 shooting, and guard Stanford Robinson notched 16 points and tied his season-high with seven steals.

After their sixth consecutive loss, the Rams looked to their matchup against Massachusetts on Saturday, Jan. 27 as a chance to bounce back.

“Just stay together; that’s what I’ve been repeating to the team the past five or six games,” junior guard Joseph Chartouny said. “I just try to bring guys together to play with each other and have each other’s backs, so that’s basically the main message we have right now, especially with a shorthanded team.”

With the pressure on the Rams, they came through and grabbed an 82-69 victory against the Minutemen, racking up a season-high 26 assists on 29 baskets and lighting it up from beyond the arc, going 12-25 from long distance.

“Our group over the last two and a half years has had some gritty wins, and y’know, we’ve beaten some good teams, but I don’t know if any of them feel better than this one, simply because our team has struggled, we’ve had a tough time,” head coach Jeff Neubauer said. “Not only that but we were down at halftime, and our guys just showed a lot of resilience… I think what we saw in the second half was a great indication of what this team can be, and what I mean by that is we shared the ball, we passed the ball, we took care of the ball, and that’s the best it’s moved all year.”

Massachusetts led 35-31 going into halftime, but after the Minutemen started the second half with a three-pointer to extend their margin, the Rams swung back with a haymaker as a 19-2 run gave Fordham a 50-40 lead with 11:44 left in the game. UMass cut the lead back down to 52-47 with 10:49 left in the second half, but Fordham used an 11-5 burst to push the margin back to 11, 63-52, courtesy of a three-pointer from Pekarek with 7:55 remaining in the contest. Fordham controlled the rest of the game from that point, with Massachusetts getting no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

“That was really fun basketball in the second half,” Neubauer said. “Basketball is a team game, but it’s played by individuals. So when individuals are united, and they pass it and share it, it’s fun to watch. But also our defense in the second half was really good; we had several guys who just committed to the game plan. I thought Prokop stepped up in the second half around the rim as well.”

The Rams had five players score in double figures, led by Chartouny’s 16 points and season-high 13 assists. He also played the full 40 minutes and went 3-8 from beyond the arc, which is hopefully a good sign after his prolonged shooting slump this season.

“I mean, I haven’t shot the ball well from three this year, so it always feels good when it goes in, but it’s not about just me making threes,” Chartouny said. “It’s more about me making threes to help the team more, and it always feels good when you win.”

Slanina poured in 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Raut added 16 points and Tavares chipped in with 14 points. In addition, despite only contributing five points and five assists, sophomore guard Cavit Havsa was the only other player to play all 40 minutes.

“Well if you look at our assist turnover [ratio] between our guards: 18 assists and 2 turnovers,” Neubauer said. “A big reason we had so many assists is we made shots. This is how we have envisioned our team playing: guys moving the ball, and some ending up with an open three… really, really impressed with what [Havsa] did today and really proud of him.”

Fordham’s next game is on the road as they travel to face the St. Louis Billikens at the Chaifetz Center on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m.