Men's Basketball Comes Up Short Against St. John's
Dec. 17, 2011
New York, N.Y. - The theme for the 2011-12 Fordham men's basketball season is "College Basketball... New York Style". And that was on display this afternoon at Madison Square Garden as Fordham and St. John's, two of the oldest programs in the country, squared off as part of the 2011 MSG Holiday Festival. After falling behind in the first half, the Rams mounted a comeback bid that came up short, falling to the Red Storm, 56-50.
With the loss, Fordham falls to 4-6 on the year while St. John's evens its record at 5-5.
"Our goals going into the game were to keep them off the offensive glass, which we didn't do," said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora. "Obviously Chris Gaston is one of the best rebounders in the country but he can't do it alone. Our other goals were to force them to beat us over the top and limit the turnovers, which we did. But we shot poorly and gave up to many second chance opportunities."
Gaston led the Rams with eleven points and 14 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the year and the 44th in his Fordham career, while playing all 40 minutes. He also added two blocks and two steals.
Last year in the Rose Hill Gym, the Rams found themselves down 21 points in the second half to the Red Storm and mounted a tremendous comeback, winning the game, 84-81. But that wouldn't happen today as both teams shot under 36% on the game which limited the offensive output.
The Rams did attempt a late comeback, trailing by nine with 4:46 left and bringing the St. John's lead down to three, 53-50, just under three minutes later. Gaston opened the run with a pair of free throws and then grabbed an offensive rebound and turned it into a layup before Kervin Bristol finished the streak with an emphatic dunk with 1:55 left.
That run got the Fordham contingent involved as The Garden became loud, harkening some of the Ram fans back to the days when Fordham would sell out arena, playing the likes of Notre Dame and Marquette.
"I really felt the crowd," said Gaston. "The last couple of minutes the crowd really got into it. I had the same feeling last year and we started to feed off the crowd."
But the three-point deficit was as close as Fordham would get. The Rams had a chance for a tie with 1:08 remaining but a Bryan Smith three-pointer bounced out. Devon McMillan jumped on the rebound for Fordham and fed Gaston who missed a jumper with a minute on the clock and the Red Storm gained possession.
Phil Green was fouled going to the basket for St. John's with 26 seconds left and made one of two free throws to make it 54-50 before Smith missed on another long distance shot. Sir'Dominic Pointer closed out the days' scoring with a pair of free throws to make it 56-50.
The two teams played evenly for the first 14 minutes of the first half which was no surprise as they entered the game with identical 4-5 records. The Rams jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a Branden Frazier three-pointer just under a minute into the game but neither team would lead by more than five points in the opening 16 minutes with the five-point advantage belonging to the Rams, 16-11, following a Frazier layup with 10:54 remaining.
With 2:46 left before halftime, D'Angelo Harrison sank a pair of free throws to knot the game at 26, the fifth tie of the half, and ignite a 9-0 Red Storm run to close out the period as St. John's took a 35-26 lead into the break.
The Red Storm scored the first seven points of the second half to bump the lead to 16, 42-26, with 16:53 left.
The St. John's lead would waver between seven and eleven points over the next ten minutes before the Fordham run late in the game trimmed the Red Storm lead to three.
Frazier led the Rams in scoring with 17 points while Jeff Short finished with nine and Smith added eight.
The Rams return to action on Thursday night, December 22nd, as they host the Texas State University Bobcats in the Rose Hill Gym at 7:00 p.m.