Men’s Basketball Finishes Last In A-10 After Losses to URI, GW

After+beating+George+Mason%2C+the+Rams+were+knocked+out+by+Dayton+on+Thursday.+%28SAMUEL+JOSEPH%2FTHE+RAM%29

After beating George Mason, the Rams were knocked out by Dayton on Thursday. (SAMUEL JOSEPH/THE RAM)

By DAN GARTLAND
STAFF WRITER

The Rams are the No. 13 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. They will play George Mason Wednesday night.  (SAMUEL JOSEPH/THE RAM)

The Rams are the No. 13 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. They will play George Mason Wednesday night. (SAMUEL JOSEPH/THE RAM)

Entering Saturday’s regular season finale against George Washington at Rose Hill Gym, Fordham did not have much to play for. The Rams’ loss to Rhode Island earlier in the week had assured them their fifth last-place finish in the past six seasons. The team played hard on Senior Day, and gave the Colonials (23-7) everything they could handle, though the Rams lost, 70-67.

“For the last few weeks I’ve been talking to [the team] about how close we are,” Fordham head coach Tom Pecora said. “We’re so close to turning the corner here. There’s a team that’s going to the NCAA Tournament, they’re one of the top four teams in the conference. They jumped us pretty good down at their place, and we showed the gumption to come back here and to play them.”

Fordham played unlike it had in almost any other game this season. The Rams were most successful this year when they shot the ball well from the outside, often as a way to cover up their poor play on the interior.

Against GW, however, the opposite was true. Fordham’s shooters struggled to find their stroke and made only three of 24 three-point attempts. Pecora said his team was able to make up for its shooting woes “by getting 18 offensive rebounds and just kicking their ass on the boards.”

Junior center Ryan Canty played his best game of the season and one of the best games of his career. He tied a career high with 16 rebounds and added 12 points.

“We knew Canty, if you didn’t box him out, he would manhandle us on the boards and that’s exactly what happened,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan said.

While Canty controlled the boards, senior Branden Frazier, playing in his final game at Rose Hill Gym, took over the scoring. He finished with 28 points on 10-21 shooting, but missed a contested potential game-tying attempt in the game’s final seconds.

“Although we didn’t get the win, it’s good to show the people that were here, I guess, to remember me,” Frazier said. “Playing like that in my last game, they’ll remember what I did.”

Frazier, who originally had committed to Hofstra but followed Pecora to the Bronx after he took over as head coach in 2010, also reflected on what his time meant to him.

“Although the team has been going through its ups and downs, just being at Fordham and being a part of Fordham was the best decision I ever made,” Frazier said. “Coming here and getting my degree, and just being around people that supported me, made me who I am. Basketball isn’t everything. Fordham made me a man.”

Pecora also spoke very highly of his point guard.

“When he’s done playing, and he’ll play professionally at some level somewhere, there will be Fordham people lining up to hire him,” Pecora said. “That’s why you come to Fordham: It’s not about four years, it’s about 40 years. When we’re winning next year, I’ll mention Branden Frazier a lot in the course of that, because he set the foundation for that.”

Frazier’s college career is not done just yet, though. The Rams face George Mason (11-19) on March 12 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in what amounts to an Atlantic 10 Tournament play-in game. The winner will face fifth-seeded Dayton the following day.

Considering the way Fordham played against GW, Pecora believes his team can win at least one game in Brooklyn.

“I told them in the locker room, if you don’t think you can go into this tournament and win games, you’re crazy,” he said.

But, as it often does, it boils down to whether the Rams will give the necessary effort, Pecora said.

“If you give effort like we gave [against GW] then you’re going to win a lot of basketball games,” Pecora said, “and hopefully we’ll give this kind of effort Wednesday night.”