Men's Basketball Has Winning Streak Stopped at UMass
Jan. 5, 2012
Amherst, Mass. - The Fordham University men's basketball team grabbed 45 rebounds tonight at Massachusetts but it was the one the Rams missed that came back to haunt them. Trailing by one with 13 seconds left, Massachusetts missed both shots of a two shot foul but was able to rebound the miss and convert two other charity shots en route to an 80-76 win over Fordham in the Atlantic 10 season opener at the Mullins Center.
With the loss, which snaps a three-game Fordham winning streak, the Rams even their record at 7-7 on the year while Massachusetts improves to 12-3.
"We had 17 turnovers and allowed 17 offensive rebounds and you can't win on the road with those numbers," said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora. "UMass came out as the aggressor and made some timely plays but I'm happy with the way we hung with them. We're a young team who has to learn what it takes to win on the road."
Chris Gaston paced the Rams with 16 points and a season-high 18 rebounds, his seventh straight double-double and his NCAA-leading 12th of the year. He added two assists and two blocks to his stat line while teammate Kervin Bristol notched his first double-double of the year, scoring eleven points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
To add insult to injury, the player who missed the free throws and grabbed the offensive rebound before getting fouled was Chaz Williams, who played his freshman year for Pecora at Hofstra in 2009-10 before transferring to Massachusetts when Pecora moved to Fordham. Williams then sank the two free throws to put the Minutemen up three, 79-76 with eleven seconds left.
Lamount Samuell was fouled by Williams on the ensuing Fordham possession but Samuell missed his first free throw before intentionally missing the second but the ball failed to hit the rim and was awarded to UMass. Williams was fouled again with six ticks left on the clock and he hit the first free throw for the 80-76 final.
After a slow offensive first half for both teams, the Minutemen scored 14 straight points in the second half and threatened to run away with the game, turning a 44-44 tie into a 58-44 lead with 12:31 remaining. But the Rams wouldn't back down, as a Bryan Smith three-point play started a 7-0 Fordham run to help the Rams cut the Massachusetts advantage in half, 58-51, with 10:55 left on a Ryan Canty layup.
The Minutemen slowly got the lead up to eleven, 71-60, following a Williams layup with six minutes remaining but the Rams again mounted a comeback, scoring seven unanswered points, six from Gaston, to pull to within four, 71-67, on a Gaston layup with 3:18 on the clock.
After Massachusetts bumped the lead back to seven, 74-67, with 2:48 left Fordham responded with a 9-3 spurt to close to within one, 77-76, on a pair of Branden Frazier free throws with 18 seconds left but that was as close as the Rams would get.
The first half featured four ties, the final time at 19 following a Frazier three-pointer with 8:58 left in the half. A Kervin Bristol free throw 45 seconds later ignited a 8-2 Fordham run as the Rams took their biggest lead of the game, 27-21, on a Smith three-pointer with 4:19 remaining in the half.
The Rams again led by six 1:40 later, 32-26, but Massachusetts closed out the half with seven straight points to take a 33-32 lead at the break.
Frazier led the Rams with 19 points and he added four rebounds and four assists.
The Rams will return to action on Saturday, January 7th, as they host the Xavier University Musketeers in an Atlantic 10 game in the Rose Hill Gym at noon. The game between the two Jesuit schools is one of more than 90 games played this season as part of the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight (JBS) and will be televised live on the YES Network.