Portley’s Last-Second Shot Propels Rams Over Knights

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Portley’s Last-Second Shot Propels Rams Over Knights

Andrew Posadas, Assistant Sports Editor

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In a game that saw both teams combine to score 62 points inside the paint, the deciding basket would come from beyond the arc as senior guard Antwon Portley’s last-second three-point shot lifted Fordham Men’s Basketball over Fairleigh Dickinson University 53–50 to improve to 2–0 on the season.

Wednesday night’s game was the third all-time meeting between the Rams and Knights, with Fordham having won both of the previous contests. After defeating St. Francis College of Brooklyn in its season opener last Tuesday, the Rams welcomed its second straight Northeast Conference opponent in Fairleigh Dickinson. Fordham came in with a record of 64–29 against teams in the NEC, but the Knights presented a stiffer challenge being that it made the NCAA Tournament last season.

Leading FDU’s offensive attack was preseason all-NEC guard Jahlil Jenkins, a dynamic scorer in the back court who averaged 19.2 points per game last year for the Knights. Neubauer compared Jenkins game to that of Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, describing him as a “high-level shooter and player.”

Fortunately for Neubauer, his defense was up the challenge and the Rams did an incredible job neutralizing Jenkins on the night, limiting him to just eight points.

The first half did not see much scoring from either side, with both teams struggling to find any rhythm from the three-point line. Instead, the Rams and Knight scored the majority of its points around the basket. The slow pace and offensive inefficiency led to a 27–24 Fordham lead at halftime.

The second half saw more of the same pace with the game turning into more a defensive struggle with both teams unable to assert dominance on the offensive side. Fordham led by as many as seven at one point, but the Knights showed great composure and resilience to stay within striking distance.

The final minute of regulation saw late-game drama when FDU forward Kaleb Bishop made a layup to give the Knights a 50–49 lead with less than 38 seconds remaining. On the next possession, Rams junior forward Ivan Raut had an open look from beyond the arc, but came up just short. Luckily, the rebound came right back to Raut, who passed it over to Portley for what could have been the final possession of the game.

Instead, Portley brought the ball to the left corner of the court and confidently hoisted up a three-point shot of his own. Being that Fordham could not buy a long-distance basket all night, one might surmise that Portley’s shot was not ideal in that situation. But, if there is one player who has earned the right to take that shot, it has been the battle-tested Portley.

Portley’s shot flirted with every part of the rim, even touching the backboard at one point, before falling through the hoop with 16 seconds left in regulation. When talking about the senior, Neubauer said, “I literally made a list in my office [Wednesday] of who I trust on the basketball court. Who is most likely to do what we need to do to win? He’s at the top of that list every time.”

FDU had one last chance to send the game to overtime, but a great defensive play by Raut sealed the 53–50 victory as Fordham moves to 2–0 early on this season. Portley scored 9 points, none bigger than that three-point basket, while adding 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Junior forward Chuba Ohams and Sophomore forward Onyi Eyisi combined for 24 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists.

Up next for Fordham men’s basketball, its third home game of the season when the Rams host Marist College this Saturday at 7 p.m. from the historic Rose Hill Gymnasium. The game can be heard on WFUV 90.7 FM and seen exclusively on ESPN+.