Men's Basketball Notches First Win with 70-68 Victory over Penn
Nov. 19, 2012
Bethlehem, Pa. - When the Fordham men's basketball team checked into its hotel on Sunday, the hotel employees where busy setting up Christmas decorations in the hotel lobby. Bethlehem, after all, is known for its annual Christmas Village. Tonight at Lehigh's Stabler Arena, the Rams gave head coach Tom Pecora his first gift of the year, pulling out a 70-68 win over Penn in a consolation game of the 2012 NIT Season Tip-Off.
With the win, Fordham improves to 1-3 on the year while Penn falls to 1-4.
With Chris Gaston out of action due to an injury, the Rams were wondering where they would find the points and rebounds in his absence. Though the question wasn't directly answered tonight, several Rams stepped forward with Branden Frazier leading the offense, scoring 19 points and dishing out seven assists, and Travion Leonard adding nine points and combining with fellow freshman Ryan Rhoomes to pull down nine rebounds.
The Rams trailed by one, 63-62, with 1:34 left when Bryan Smith was fouled going to the hoop and, as the official was making the call, Penn was whistled for a technical. Frazier sunk both technical free throws and Smith hit both of his charity shots to put the Rams up 65-63.
A Steve Rennard three-pointer with 1:13 remaining put Penn up 66-65 but a Jeff Short driving layup 21 seconds later helped Fordham regain the lead, 67-66.
Smith rebounded a missed Penn three-point attempt with 26 seconds left and was fouled but he missed the front end of the one-and-one. However, Smith was able to grab the rebound as Fordham kept possession of the ball and called a timeout.
After the ball was inbounded, Frazier was fouled with 15 seconds on the clock and converted both charity shots to put the Rams up three, 69-66.
Penn called a timeout with ten seconds remaining and out of the time out, threw a cross-court pass that Frazier almost intercepted. The ball went to Penn's Miles Cartwright who missed a three-pointer but Fran Dougherty was able to rebound the miss and put it in to make it a one-point game, 69-68, with six ticks on the clock.
Jermaine Myers was fouled on the inbound pass and hit the first of two free throws with five seconds left. Penn rebounded the miss and got the ball up court but a Cartwright three-pointer at the buzzer hit the front of the rim.
Penn jumped out to a 6-0 lead 2:38 into the game before the Rams came back, eventually tying the contest at eight on a Jeff Short three with 12:44 left in the half.
Fordham would take a five-point lead, 24-19, on a Smith trifecta with 7:14 remaining in the period, one of four first-half three-pointers for Smith.
Penn whittled away at the Rams' advantage, using a 9-2 run late in the first to turn a 28-24 Fordham lead into a 33-30 advantage for the Quakers with 2:33 remaining in the half.
The Rams built the lead to five three times over the first five minutes of the second half, the final at 46-41 following a pair of Frazier free throws. But Penn went on a 6-2 spurt to curb the Rams' lead to one 48-47, with 13:25 left.
Fordham responded to the Penn spurt with an 8-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 56-49, on a Frazier three with 11:05 remaining.
The Fordham offense then went cold as the Rams were held scoreless over the next six minutes with Penn netting 12 unanswered points to take a five-point lead, 61-56.
A Short layup got the Rams back on the board with 4:56 left but a Cartwright basket bumped the Quakers' lead back to five, 63-58, with 4:19 left.
A Frazier three-pointer with 3:11 remaining ignited a 7-0 Fordham run as the Rams took the 65-63 lead following the Frazier and Smith free throws with 1:34 on the clock.
Smith finished with 14 points for the Rams, hitting four of his five three-point attempts, while Short also netted double figures, adding 12 points.
The Rams return to action on Tuesday night, November 20, as they face Fairfield University in a consolation bracket game of the 2012 NIT Season Tip-Off at the Stabler Arena at 6:00 p.m.