Men's Basketball Comes Back to Defeat Princeton, 63-60
Dec. 15, 2012
Brooklyn, N.Y. - Pity the two games that follow today's Fordham-Princeton game at the Barclays Center as part of the BROOKLYN Hoops Winter Festival for they will have a hard time being as exciting as the Rams-Tigers matchup. Trailing by ten with 3:42 left, Fordham battled back to defeat Princeton, 63-60, thanks to a Brooklyn native who took over the final four minutes of the game.
With the win, the Rams improve to 2-8 on the year while Princeton falls to 3-6.
"We knew that Princeton is a very smart team coming onto the game and we had to wait to go up-tempo," said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora. "We were kind of forced to do it when we did since we were down but Branden Frazier did a great job running the offense and came up with some big baskets."
The Brooklyn native who willed the Rams to the win was junior guard Branden Frazier, who grew up in the neighborhood around the Barclays Center and went to high school at Bishop Loughlin, just down the street from the arena. After being held to two points in the first 30 minutes, Frazier scored 17 of his game-high 19 in the final ten, including 13 in the final 2:54.
Frazier was cold from the field over the first 37 minutes, making just one of his ten field goal attempts, but made up for it in the final three minutes, sinking all four of his shots, including a big three-pointer with 28 seconds left, and hitting all eight of his free throws.
When Frazier wasn't scoring he was setting up his teammates, dishing to Ryan Canty who laid the ball in with 8.8 seconds on the clock to give the Rams the lead for good, 61-60.
Canty closed out the game with his second straight double-double, scoring 12 points and adding 15 rebounds as well as blocking a pair of shots. The 15 rebounds was one shy of his career-high of 16 set last Saturday against St. John's.
Frazier's and Canty's performances overshadowed the return to action of senior forward Chris Gaston, who netted 16 points and grabbed five rebounds after missing the past six games with an injury.
The Rams trailed by ten, 56-46, when a Frazier driving layup with 2:58 left ignited a 10-2 Fordham run as the Rams pulled to within two, 58-56, on a pair of Frazier free throws with 42 seconds left.
Seven seconds after Princeton's Ian Hammer hit two free throws with 35 seconds on the clock, Frazier netted a three-pointer to make it a one-point game, 60-59.
The Rams fouled Clay Wilson with 25 seconds left but Wilson missed the front end of a one-and-one and the ball was rebounded by Canty. Out of timeouts, the Rams moved quickly down court. Frazier started to drive from the top of the key but dished off to Canty, who was sneaking along the baseline, and Canty laid the ball off the glass to give Fordham the 61-60 lead with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Following a time out, the Tigers got the ball to Hammer who missed a layup in traffic and Bryan Smith came down with the rebound for the Rams. Smith was fouled and sank both of his free throws with 1.1 seconds on the clock.
Princeton had one last chance to tie the game but a Hammer three from the top of the arc bounced out as the buzzer sounded.
The first half was a defensive struggle with neither team managing to take a lead of more than four. The first four-point lead belonged to the Rams, 19-15, on a Frazier layup with 6:54 left but the Tigers scored ten of the next 12 points to take a four-point lead of their own, 25-21, following a Wilson three-pointer with 3:06 remaining.
Fordham then scored five straight, on a Travion Leonard layup and a Smith three, to take a 26-25 lead with 2:22 left but Princeton netted the final three points of the period to go up 28-26 at the break.
The first ten minutes of the second half started out as close as the first 20 with the Rams taking a one-point lead, 43-42, on a pair of Frazier free throws with 9:05 left. The Tigers then scored 12 unanswered points to take their biggest lead of the day, 54-43, with 5:39 remaining.
A Gaston three-point play halted the Princeton run with 5:01 on the clock but a Hans Brase layup 1:19 later gave the Tigers the 56-46 lead before the Rams mounted the comeback.
"This was a good win and hopefully we can build off it,' said Pecora. "It was great playing in the Barclays Center and we hope to be playing more games here in the future, especially with the Atlantic 10 Championship coming to the arena this year."
The Rams return to action on Friday night, December 21, as they travel to Hartford, Conn., to face the University of Connecticut Huskies in the XL Center at 7:00 p.m.