Men's Basketball Erupts for 82-71 Win over Monmouth
Dec. 31, 2012
Bronx, N.Y. -
Trailing Monmouth University by five at the half, 33-28, Fordham head coach Tom Pecora had only one request for senior Chris Gaston. Take over the game. And Gaston responded by scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half as the Rams outscored the Hawks, 54-38, in the period to pull out an 82-71 win in the Rose Hill Gym.
With the win, Fordham improves to 4-10 on the year while Monmouth falls to 5-8. The win also clinches a winning home non-conference record for the Rams, their third straight winning non-conference home slate (the Rams were 6-1 at home in nonconference action last year and 5-3 in 2010-11). The last time Fordham had three consecutive non-conference home winning records was from 1996-97 until 1998-99.
"As our only senior, I told Chris that he had to take over the game for us in the second half," said Pecora. "We then started taking better care of the ball in the half and Bryan Smith started to hit his shots. When Bryan Smith is hitting shots we win. I don't think he's had a big game where we didn't win."
Gaston added ten rebounds to go with his 19 points for his second double-double of the year, his first since opening night (he missed six games earlier this year due to an injury). He now has 54 career double-doubles in 92 career games.
Gaston wasn't alone in providing offense for the Rams as three other players finished in double figures with Bryan Smith scoring a season-high 18 points, hitting four three-pointers, Mandell Thomas finishing with 12, also a season-high, and Branden Frazier chipping in with eleven.
Gaston also had help on the boards as Ryan Canty grabbed a game-high 14 caroms, just two shy of his career best, as the Rams outrebounded the Hawks, 51-30, the fifth time in the past six games that Fordham has outrebounded its opponent.
In the deciding second half, Fordham shot 54.8% (17-31) from the field, with Smith leading the way, scoring 14 of his 18 in the half, with all four of his trifectas coming in the final 20 minutes.
In the first half, Monmouth, who entered the game among the NCAA leaders in turnovers forced per game (21.3), induced the Rams to turn the ball over 14 times which translated into 13 Hawk points while Fordham shot just 38.5% (10-26) from the field, leading to the halftime deficit.
After an Andrew Nicholson jumper a minute into the second half increased the Monmouth lead to seven, its largest lead of the night, Gaston and Canty answered with back-to-back layups, Canty's on an offensive rebound, and Gaston hit one of two free throws to pull the Rams within two, 35-33, with 17:36 left.
Stephen Spinella bumped the Monmouth advantage back to four, 37-33, with a layup 41 seconds later and the Rams trailed by four again, 40-36, with 16:12 remaining when a Gaston layup ignited a 10-0 Fordham run as the Rams took a 46-40 lead on a Frazier three-pointer with 13:07 on the clock.
The Hawks answered with five straight of their own to make it a one-point game, 46-45, following a Spinella layup 35 seconds later and the Rams were up by a point just over two minutes later, 49-48, when a Smith three-pointer started an 11-2 Fordham spurt as the Rams built a ten-point advantage, 60-50, when Jermaine Myers connected on a trifecta with 8:09 left.
The Rams would get to lead to as many as 15, 68-53, on a Smith driving layup at 5:36 before Monmouth used an 8-1 run to slice the Fordham advantage to eight, 69-61, with 4:28 remaining. But a Gaston jumper quickly bumped the Rams' lead back into double figures and the closest the Hawks would get from there was nine, 75-66, on a Jesse Steele three with 2:17 left.
The game was tied three times over the first three minutes before Monmouth took an 8-7 lead with 16:02 left in the half. The Rams then scored ten straight to go up 17-8 on a Thomas three-pointer with 13:50 on the clock.
The Rams led by nine again with 11:05 left, 19-10, but the Hawks scored seven unanswered points over the next two minutes to cut the Fordham lead to two, 19-17. Fordham got the lead back to as many as seven, 26-19, on a pair of Smith free throws with 5:12 remaining but Monmouth outscored the Rams, 14-2 over the final five minutes to take the 33-28 lead at the break.
Canty added seven points to go with his 14 rebounds while Smith added five rebounds and five assists, Frazier grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists and Myers finished with eight points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Rams return to action on Friday, January 4, as they travel down to Oxford, Mississippi, to face the Ole Miss Rebels at 9:00 p.m. (EST).