Men's Basketball Uses Hot First Half to Defeat Siena, 81-75
Dec. 23, 2012
Bronx, N.Y. - One is a senior and the other a junior, two of the only three juniors or seniors on a Fordham University men's basketball roster that features four freshmen, two redshirt freshmen and four sophomores. Today, senior Chris Gaston and junior Branden Frazier pointed the way for the Rams, combining to score 45 points and lead Fordham to an 81-75 win over Siena College in the Rose Hill Gym.
With the win, the Rams improve to 3-9 on the year while Siena falls to 2-10.
Gaston and Frazier combined for 45 of the 81 Fordham points with Gaston netting a season and game-high 25, and Frazier adding 20, along with a career-best ten assists for his first double-double. Frazier's ten assists are the most for a Fordham player since Jio Fontan dished out eleven against Xavier in 2009.
Gaston shot 11-for-17 from the field while Frazier was just as hot, swishing five of his eight field goal attempts, including two-for-four from behind the arc. The two also hit all eleven of their free throws on the afternoon (eight for Frazier and three for Gaston).
Gaston and Frazier weren't the only Rams with the hot hand today as the team, shot a sizzling 69.0% (20-29) in the first half and a season-high 58.5% (31-53) in the game.
The Rams rode the hot first half shooting to build a 47-31 halftime lead but the Saints were just as hot in the second half, shooting 60.0% (15-25) to whittle away at the Fordham advantage, opening the second half with a 24-8 run to get the Fordham lead down to two, 55-53, with 12:31 remaining.
A Gaston three-point play 17 seconds later bumped the lead to five, and Jeff Short followed with a layup with 11:55 left to get the Fordham advantage to seven, 60-53.
But the Saints wouldn't go away, scoring six straight points to make it a one-point game on a Rakeem Brookins three-pointer with ten minutes left in the game.
Once again it was Gaston who got the Fordham offense going, laying the ball off the backboard and in just under a minute later to stop the Siena run and start a 6-0 Fordham spurt, aided by baskets from Travion Leonard and Mandell Thomas, as the Rams took a 69-62 lead with 8:00 remaining.
Neither team scored over the next two minutes but the Saints got the Fordham lead down to five three times over the following three minutes, the final time at 74-69 with 2:17 on the clock.
After Rob Poole missed a pair of free throws for the Saints with 1:44 left, Frazier was fouled and hit both of his free throws to put Fordham up seven with 1:19 remaining.
Thomas rejected a Brookins layup attempt eleven seconds later but Gaston missed on a jumper and the Saints corralled the rebound but gave it right back to Fordham on a turnover with 37 ticks on the clock. Jeff Short was fouled with 35 seconds left and hit one of two free throws and Frazier was able to tap the rebound of the miss back to a teammate before Frazier took the ball and was fouled.
Frazier sank both free throws to get the Fordham advantage to ten, 79-69, with 28 seconds left but Evan Hymes hit two free throws for Siena, O.D. Anosike tipped in a miss and Poole hit a driving layup over the next 15 seconds as the Rams had problems inbounding the ball and the Saints pulled to within four, 79-75. But Frazier iced the game for the Rams with a pair of charity shots with nine seconds left.
Fordham controlled the first half with Gaston scoring 20 of his 25 points in the period. The Rams opened the game with a 21-10 run over the first 7:40, with Gaston and Bryan Smith each scoring eight in the run.
After the Saints got the Fordham lead down to seven, 23-16, with 10:23 left, Fordham went on a 14-5 run to take a 37-21 lead on a Leonard layup with 4:09 remaining and the Rams would get the lead to as many as 18, 47-29, with 45 seconds left on a Gaston jumper before Poole closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws to make it a 47-31 game at the break.
Smith added 15 points for the Rams while Thomas chipped in with eight points and four rebounds and Gaston pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
The Rams return to action on Saturday, December 29, when they travel to Atlanta to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 7:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised live on ESPN3.
Honorary Captain The Rams were joined at the game by a special honorary captain, Army Specialist Johnnie Hicks, a member of the Wounded Warrior project who presented the officials with today's game ball.