Men's Basketball Pulls Out 66-63 Win over Rhode Island
Jan. 26, 2013
Bronx, N.Y. - It wasn't surprising that a game that featured two relatively evenly matched teams, teams who not only entered the game with identical Atlantic 10 records but who also share a nickname, would come down to the final minute. And in that closing minute, both teams had chances to secure the win but when the buzzer sounded as a last ditch Rhode Island shot fell short, it was the Fordham University Rams raising their hands in victory as they squeaked by the University of Rhode Island Rams, 66-63, in the Rose Hill Gym.
In a game that had more twists and turns than a Hitchcock movie, more total fouls than baskets made and just as many free throws made as baskets, it came down to the final possession as a three-pointer from Rhode Island's Xavier Munford bounced off the rim, five seconds after Branden Frazier hit a pair of free throws to give Fordham a 66-63 lead.
"As I told the team after the game, I don't believe in the term ugly win," said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora. "Every win I've had is beautiful a thing because they're so hard to come by. Rhode Island is a good team who is well coached by Danny and Bobby Hurley and they came in prepared and took away some of the things we do. But I think we did a decent job countering and the young guys are getting better and better."
The young guys Pecora refers to are freshman guard Mandell Thomas, who netted a season-high 17 points, along with freshman forwards Ryan Rhoomes, who grabbed a season-best eleven rebounds and Travion Leonard, who netted a season-high 13 points and added eight rebounds.
What made the game even more special for Thomas is that his father, Chad, played at the University of Rhode Island from 1995-1997 and was a teammate of current URI assistant coach Preston Murphy.
Junior Branden Frazier, the lone upperclassman for Fordham today with senior Chris Gaston still sidelines with an injury, also stepped up, scoring a game-high 20 points, bouncing back after being held to just five points on Wednesday night at Dayton. He did most of his damage from the free throw line, converting eleven of his 13 charity shots, hitting all eleven in the second half, to notch his seventh 20-point game of the year.
With the win, Fordham improves to 6-14 overall, 2-3 in the Atlantic 10, while Rhode Island falls to 6-12 overall, 1-4 in the conference.
The score was tied at 60 with 2:27 left following a Mike Powell three-pointer for Rhode Island but Frazier was fouled 22 seconds later and sank both free throws to give Fordham a 62-60 lead.
Rhode Island took its final lead of the day, 63-62, when T.J. Buchanan swished a three-pointer with 1:45 on the clock but Frazier hit the first of two free throw with just over a minute remaining to tie the game for the eighth and final time.
Frazier missed the second attempt but the ball was rebounded by Rhoomes and the Rams got the ball down low to Leonard, who was fouled. Leonard hit one of his two charity shots to give Fordham a 64-63 lead with 38 seconds left.
Rhode Island had two chances to take the lead in the final 15 seconds as Rhody was able to rebound a Munford missed three with 15 seconds left and Munford missed a jumper six seconds later with Fordham's Jeff Short grabbing the rebound.
Following a timeout, Frazier was fouled before the ball was inbounded and hit both free throws with six seconds on the clock to boost the Fordham lead to three, 66-63, and Munford's last second trey was no good as Fordham held on for the win.
Despite shooting just 36.4% (8-22) from the field in the first half, Rhode Island took a 32-31 lead into the break thanks to 13 points from the free throw line.
A Leonard jumper 27 seconds into the second half gave Fordham a 33-32 lead but Rhode Island used a 10-4 run over the next four minutes to take its largest lead of the day, 42-37, following two Nikola Malesevic free throws.
Fordham wouldn't back down, responding with a Rhoomes basket and two Frazier free throws to pull within one, 42-41, with 13:58 left.
Rhode Island bumped its lead back to three twice over the next 1:30, the final time at 46-43, but Fordham used a 13-5 run to take its largest lead of the half, 56-51, on a Thomas layup with 7:20 remaining. Rhode Island came back with a 9-4 spurt to tie the game at 60 on the Powell three-pointer with 2:27 left.
Ryan Canty added seven points and eight rebounds for Fordham.
Fordham will return to action on Wednesday night, January 30, as the Rams host the Saint Joseph's University Hawks in the Rose Hill Gym in an Atlantic 10 contest at 7:00 p.m.