Men's Basketball Completes Come Back Win Over St. John's, 84-81
Dec. 12, 2010
Bronx, N.Y. - Following each game, the Fordham University men's basketball team goes over to the student section to thank their classmates for their support. Tonight the students came to the Rams, rushing the court as the final buzzer sounded to celebrate Fordham's amazing come-from-behind 84-81 win over St. John's University in a sold out Rose Hill Gym.
With the win, Fordham's third straight, the Rams improve to 5-4 while the Red Storm falls to 5-3.
"That was a great college basketball atmosphere and that's what Fordham University deserves," said Pecora. "I am so proud of the resiliency and toughness of this bunch of guys. I'm so happy for them and for the students at Fordham. They've been through a rough time and to have a night like this is special for the university."
Trailing by 12 at the half, 45-33, and with his leading scorer, Brenton Butler, having four fouls, Fordham head coach Tom Pecora had a decision to make for the second half. Does he start Butler or wait to put him in so he can avoid fouling out. Pecora decided to roll the dice and not only start Butler in the second half but play him the entire period and the senior guard paid dividends, hitting a jumper with 14 seconds remaining to lift Fordham to the win.
Butler, who entered the game with just eight fouls in his first seven games, picked up four in the first 18:16 of the game, two of those coming on charging calls. But the senior captain was smart enough to keep himself in the game in the second half, scoring 13 of his team-high 22 points in the period, his third straight 20-point game this year.
Early in the second half it seemed that it wouldn't matter if Butler was in the game as the Rams were down 21 to a team with ten seniors on its roster. It would have been easy for the Rams fold the tent and succumb to their Big East opponent. But that is so last year's Rams. This year's Fordham squad refused to give in and found support from their new leader. During one of the timeouts in the second half when the Rams trailed by double digits Pecora, who has now won five of the last six games he has coached against St. John's, explained to the squad that it wasn't okay to lose to St. John's. And the players responded.
Trailing 60-39 with 16:12 left, Butler hit a three-pointer to make it a 62-42 game but D.J. Kennedy responded with a dunk to put St. John's up 20, 62-42, with 15:35 left. But those would be the last points scored by the Red Storm for the next 3:35 as Fordham netted 16 straight to cut the Red Storm lead back to four, 62-58, following a Branden Frazier steal and jumper with 12:25 left.
Butler started the run with a four-point play, being fouled by Dwight Hardy as he hit a three-pointer and converting the free throw. Butler had six points in the run while Alberto Estwick added five.
St. John's responded with an 11-3 spurt to regain a double digit lead, 73-61, after a Hardy three-point play with 8:46 remaining. The Rams again refused to back down, using another 16-0 run to take a 77-73 lead after Estwick nailed a three, his fourth long range basket of the night, with 5:24 on the clock.
A pair of Paris Horne free throws and a Justin Burrell dunk over the next 1:43 helped St. John's knot the game at 77 and the Red Storm would twice take a one-point lead over the next 1:28, the last time at 81-80 on a pair of Horne free throws with 1:38 left. But the Rams quickly got the ball down to Marvin Dominique who was fouled seven seconds later and the freshman nailed both of his free throws to put Fordham up one, 82-81.
St. John's didn't get off a shot in the ensuing possession as Horne turned the ball over and Chris Gaston almost converted that into a basket for the Rams but his layup fell off the rim with Burrell gathering the rebound for the Red Storm. Kennedy then came up short on a jumper with 48 seconds left and Frazier grabbed the rebound for the Rams.
Looking to run some time off the clock, Fordham passed the ball around the perimeter until Butler took matters into his own hands, burying a jumper with 14 seconds left. St. John's called a time out with nine seconds left and set up a Hardy three-point attempt. But his shot with six seconds left bounced out but Kennedy kept the play alive for the Red Storm with an offensive rebound and he fed Hardy for one last attempt to tie the game but that shot fell off the rim too, seconds before the Fordham fans rushed the court.
Butler hit eight of his 15 field goal attempts, including five of his nine shots from behind to arc, to amass his 22 points and he also dished out five assists. Estwick finished with a season-high 20 points and he grabbed four rebounds and recorded five assists while Gaston notched his seventh double-double of the year with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Frazier also finished in double figures with 16 points, nailing five of his six shots, including three of his four three-point attempts.
After breaking for first semester finals, the Rams will return to action on Wednesday night, December 22nd, as they host the Kennesaw State University Owls, who defeated Georgia Tech earlier this year, in the Rose Hill Gym at 7:00 p.m.