Men's Basketball Comes Up Short Against UMass, 77-73
Jan. 13, 2013
Bronx, N.Y. - Similar to last year's game, today's Fordham-Massachusetts Atlantic 10 men's basketball match-up came down to free throws. But unlike last year, in which the Minutemen hit three charity shots in the final eleven seconds, it was the Rams' misses that proved to be the difference as Massachusetts defeated Fordham, 77-73 in the Rose Hill Gym.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 5-12 overall, 1-1 in the Atlantic 10, while the Minutemen improve to 11-4 overall, 1-1 in the conference.
The Rams fell behind by 14 in the first half as Fordham shot just 26.8% (11-41) in the period and turned the ball over eleven times, before attempting to right the ship in the second half, outscoring Massachusetts 47-37, limiting the Minutemen to shooting 33.3% (12-36) in the half, eventually getting the deficit to two but that was as close as the Rams would get.
With the four-point margin, the game could have turned for the Rams at the charity stripe as Fordham attempted 30 free throws to 24 for the Minutemen. But Fordham shot just 60.0% (18-30) in the game while Massachusetts managed to shoot a little better from the stripe, hitting 16-of-24 free throws, but connected on five of six free throws over the final 26 seconds to seal the win.
"I thought we played the second half the way we're capable of playing," said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora. "We just dug a hole that was a little too deep in the first half by not executing offensively or defensively. We came out flat which is a sign of immaturity."
The two Fordham upperclassmen, senior Chris Gaston and junior Branden Frazier, did all they could to get the Rams back in the game combining for 41 points, 36 of those coming in second half. Frazier led all Fordham scorers with 21 points while Gaston finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, his second consecutive double-double and his fourth of the season. The 13 rebounds leaves Gaston just two shy of 1,000 career rebounds as he moves ahead of Bryant Dunston and into third place on the Fordham all-time rebounding list.
Gaston wasn't alone in cleaning the glass for the Rams. Ryan Canty also pulled down 13 boards as Fordham outrebounded Massachusetts, 55-42, in the game. It was the eighth time in the past ten games that Fordham has outrebounded its opponent by double figures while the 55 rebounds is a Fordham season-high.
In a game that was billed as Fordham's Brooklyn-born point guard (Frazier) versus UMass' Brooklyn native point guard (Chaz Williams), it was a guard from Florida who hit the biggest shot. After a pair of Travion Leonard free throws pulled Fordham within two, 69-67, with 1:04 remaining, Massachusetts guard Freddie Riley nailed a three-pointer from the corner in front of the Minutemen bench with 34 seconds on the clock to get the lead back to five, 72-67.
Frazier was fouled five seconds later but hit only one of two free throws before Williams connected on a pair for Massachusetts with 26 seconds left to get the Minutemen lead to six, 74-68.
Frazier connected on a three-pointer ten seconds later to cut the Fordham deficit to three, 74-71, but that was as close as the Rams would get as UMass connected on three of four free throws over the final 13 seconds with the Rams managing two charity shots from Frazier for the 77-73 final.
Trailing by 14, 47-33, with 15:52 left, the Rams were able to get the UMass lead down to eight, 47-39, as Gaston and Frazier combined to score six straight for Fordham. But the Minutemen got the lead back eleven 58-47, following a Williams three-pointer with 9:32 on the clock, when the Rams scored six unanswered points to make it a five-point game, 58-53, on a Gaston layup with 8:01 remaining.
The Minutemen got the lead back to as many as nine, 67-58, with 4:12 left when the Rams attempted one last comeback. Frazier hit a pair of free throws nine seconds later to start a 7-0 Fordham spurt as the Rams pulled to within two, 67-65, when Frazier buried a trifecta with 2:00 remaining.
The Rams played solid defense on the ensuing UMass possession but Cody Lalanne was able to get a hand on a Trey Davis missed jumper and tipped it in as the Minutemen went up 69-65 at the 1:30 mark before the two Leonard free throws made it a two-point game again at 1:04.
Mandell Thomas added ten points and four rebounds for the Rams while Leonard finished with eight points and four rebounds.
The Rams return to action on Wednesday, January 16, as they travel to Charlotte, N.C., to face the Charlotte 49ers in an Atlantic 10 contest in the Halton Arena at 7:30 PM.