Chris Gaston Powers Men's Basketball Past La Salle, 67-62
Feb. 25, 2012
Bronx, N.Y. - Maybe it was the presence of the New York Giants' Lombardi Trophy in the Rose Hill Gym today. For like the football Giants, the Fordham University men's basketball team is in need of a late season surge in order to qualify for the playoffs. And the Rams took the first step today, defeating La Salle, 67-62, in an Atlantic 10 matchup.
With the win, Fordham snaps a six-game losing streak and improves to 10-17 overall, 3-11 in the Atlantic 10, while La Salle falls to 18-11 overall, 7-7 in the conference.
"Obviously it was a monster game by Chris (Gaston)," said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora. "It was a tale of two halves. In the first half I was trying to get them to play with a little energy and I think defensively in the second half, we did a wonderful job. We didn't shoot the ball particularly well today but we executed."
After not starting the St. Bonaventure game on Wednesday due to a violation of team rules, Fordham junior forward Chris Gaston came out determined to make up for the slip-up today, tying his career-high with 35 points and grabbing 16 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the year, tops among all Atlantic 10 players (three conference players are tied for second in double-doubles with six). What makes Gaston's line ever more remarkable was that 15 of his 16 rebounds were offensive and he didn't record his lone defensive rebound until just before the final buzzer. He also added four blocks in the game.
Despite the win, the Rams didn't get much help from the teams above them as Rhode Island, who is tied with Fordham in 13th place, defeated Saint Louis, 64-62, and George Washington, who is two games ahead of Fordham, was victorious over Duquesne, 56-51. The Rams now need to win their last two games (at Rhode Island on Wednesday and home for Temple next Saturday) and have George Washington lose its final two games (La Salle at home on Wednesday and at Dayton next Saturday) in order to qualify for the Atlantic 10 Championship.
The two halves of the game were a study in contrast, with the Rams unable to stop the high-scoring Explorers in the first half, trailing 42-31 at the break. But the Fordham defense dug in for the second half, limiting La Salle to 20 points on 29.6% (8-27) shooting from the field, none over the final five minutes of the game. The Rams offense was fairly consistent in the game, scoring 31 points in the first half and 36 in the second, but Fordham was much more efficient in the second, shooting 46.9% (15-32) from the field, including 3-for-6 from long distance.
Not much scoring was done over the final 5:16, but any points that were recorded were placed on Fordham's side of the scoreboard. After a Ramon Galloway layup gave La Salle a 62-61 lead with 5:16 left, the game went three minutes before another point was scored, that coming on a steal and layup from Devon McMillan, the freshman's only points of the day, to give Fordham a 63-62 lead.
With 1:50 remaining, Gaston increased the lead to three, 65-62, taking a feed from McMillan and laying it in.
Over the next minute, La Salle, turned the ball over twice, the second a steal by Gaston, which the Rams turned into a Gaston layup for a 67-62 lead with 35 seconds remaining. Gaston had a chance for a three point play but missed the free throw. However, he grabbed the rebound of his miss and the Rams maintained possession.
Both offenses opened the game on fire with seven ties over the first nine minutes, the final time at 22 on the first of two Devon White free throws. White's second free throw gave the Explorers a 23-22 lead but Bryan Smith answered with a three-pointer for the Rams, giving Fordham a 25-23 lead with 10:20 left in the half.
A Sam Mills three-pointer 14 seconds later ignited a 15-0 La Salle run as the Explorers took a 38-25 lead following a Tyreek Duren trifecta with 3:55 left in the half.
The Rams battled back, cutting the La Salle advantage to nine, 40-31, on a Gaston layup with 1:17 left before a Mills jumper helped the Explorers take a 42-31 lead into intermission.
La Salle led by eleven just under five minutes into the second half, 52-41, when the Rams ran off 12 straight points to take a 53-52 lead on a Frazier three-pointer with 11:49 remaining, his second long distance shot in the run.
The game would be tied three times over the next four minutes, the final time at 59 on the first of two Jerrell Wright free throws. His second free throw gave La Salle a 60-59 lead with 6:30 remaining but a Gaston jumper 15 seconds later made it a 61-60 game for the Rams before Galloway put the Explorers up for the final time on the day with his layup with 5:16 left.
Frazier also finished in double figures for the Rams with eleven points, and he dished out eight assists, while Bristol finished with eight points, ten rebounds and four blocks, and Smith chipped in with seven points and seven boards.
The Rams will next be in action on Wednesday, February 29th, as they travel up to Kingston, R.I., to face the University of Rhode Island Rams in an Atlantic 10 contest at 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised live on Cox Cable.
The game was played on Hall of Fame day at Fordham as eight new members of the Fordham Athletic Hall of Fame were introduced at halftime: Bob Cole, GSB '78 (Baseball), Bob Cooney, FCRH `29 (Baseball), Kate Davis Barrick, FCRH `06 (Softball), Erika Newell, FCRH '05 (Swimming), Maik Wiedenbach, FCRH '01 (Swimming), Dan Wolleben, FCRH '04 (Rowing), Deric Zaphire, FCRH '03 (Track & Field) and Maureen Zivic, GSB '05 (Track & Field)... It was also a sort of Homecoming for former WFUVers as Michael Kay (who emceed the Hall of Fame ceremony), Mike Yam (ESPN anchor), Ryan Ruocco (who served as the play-by-play announcer for the YES Network), Mike Breen (ABC/ESPN NBA announcer), Chris Carrino (New Jersey Nets radio announcer), Mike Walczewski (New York Knicks PA announcer) and Tim Bassett were all in attendance... As part of the day's festivities, the New York Giants brought their 2012 Lombardi Trophy to the Hall of Fame ceremony and to the game, allowing fans to pose for photos with it... Gaston's 35 points ties his career-high, set earlier this year against Texas State, and brings his career total to 1,401, moving him ahead of Charlie Yelverton (1968-71) and into eleventh place on the Fordham all-time scoring list... He is 34 points behind Fred Herzog (1987-92) for tenth place... Gaston's 16 rebounds bring his career total to 896, placing him in sixth place on the Fordham all-time rebounding list... He is 21 behind John Stevens (1962-65) for fifth place... Gaston now has 52 career double-doubles in 82 career games... Gaston set a career-high with 14 field goals, surpassing his previous career-high of 13 in the Texas State game.. Bristol's ten rebounds bring his average to 9.8 rpg over the past eight games... His four blocked shot in the game bring his team-leading season total to 64, the eighth best single season total in school history, and his career total to 117, good for fourth on the Fordham career list... Frazier's eight assists ties his career-high, which he had accomplished twice before today, the last time against Harvard in January... Fordham recorded ten blocks in the game, the fifth time that the Rams notched ten or more rejections in a game this year... The Rams outrebounded the Explorers, 49-34, and outscored La Salle in the paint, 42-26... Fordham's win breaks a four-game losing streak to La Salle but the Explorers still lead the all-time series, 19-14... The win was Fordham's first in the month of February since a 78-76 win at Temple on February 23, 2008, a stretch of 26 straight February losses for the Rams.