Published February 4, 2010
Starting the game strong and finishing weak has been an unwelcome trend for the Fordham University men’s basketball team over their last few games. Plagued by poor second half defense, the Rams lost to Temple University on Jan. 23 and La Salle University on Jan. 27 despite impressive first half performances. The Rams fell to 2-17 overall and 0-7 in the Atlantic 10 conference, extending their losing streak to 12 games.
“At some point this is going to turn into a really good team, and because of what they are going through now, it’s going to benefit them in the future” said interim head coach Jared Grasso after the loss to La Salle.
The game against La Salle featured a matchup between the two top freshmen in the Atlantic 10, with Chris Gaston, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’13, representing Fordham and Aaric Murray representing La Salle. Gaston won the rebounding battle, grabbing 15 boards to Murray’s seven, but Murray won the scoring battle, contributing 24 points en route to an 80-73 La Salle victory.
At the beginning of the game the Rams came out with intensity and energy, posting a quick 17-8 lead after a Fahro Alihodzic, FCRH ’13, dunk with 11:31 remaining in the half. The Explorers responded with an 8-0 run, narrowing the Rams lead to a point.
A three pointer from Lance Brown, FCRH ’13, with five seconds left in the period put Fordham up 38-35, and the Rams headed to the locker room after leading the entire opening half.
An 18-8 La Salle run to open the second half put the Rams behind 53-46, but seven straight points put Fordham back into the game, 55-55. The Explorers fought back to lead 70-59 with just over seven minutes to play.
Fordham had a chance to tie in the final minute, but a shot by Alberto Estwick, FCRH ’12, came up short. Fordham allowed the Explorers to shoot 68 percent (17-25) in the second half, which eventually sealed Fordham’s fate; they were unable to keep up with La Salle offensive performance, shooting 35.3 percent (12-34) from the field.
“[La Salle] stepped and made shots in the second half. They are a very good team and a veteran team” Grasso said. Gaston had a great game, grabbing 15 rebounds and scoring 21 points while Lance Brown scored 14 points, 12 of which came in the first half.
The sixteenth-ranked Owls of Temple University provided a tough test for the Rams on Jan. 23. Fordham held the Atlantic-10-leading Owls to just 22 points by in the first half, but the tight defense lasted only 20 minutes, as the Owls exploded for 40 second half points on route to a 62-45 at the Rose Hill Gym.
For most of the first half the Rams and the Owls were even, with the lead changing hands five times. The Rams started strong with a 5-2 lead off Chris Gaston three point play 2:48 into the first half. A 6-0 Temple run helped to build a 20-14 lead with 1:17 remaining, but the Rams stormed back within three points by halftime with a buzzer beating three pointer from guard Danny Thompson, FCRH ’13.
The first half was mostly a defensive battle with Fordham shooting 26.9 percent (7-26) from the field and Temple shooting 28 percent (7-25)
“The first half was perfect for us,” Grasso said. “The game was ugly; neither team could make a shot and that was kind of the way we wanted it to be.”
The second half was a very different story, as Temple came out firing at all cylinders to extend its lead to 25-19.
Brown energized the crowd with a put back dunk 2:08 into the second half, but the celebration was short-lived as Temple ran off eight straight points to take a 15-point lead, 38-23, with 13:45 remaining. The formidable Fordham defense of the first half suddenly fell apart in the second half, allowing the Owls to shoot 66.7 percent (16-24) from the field and shoot a blazing 77.8 percent (7-9) from three point territory.
“Second half they made some shots [and] we didn’t respond; we continued to play hard, but they have more guns than [we do] right now” said Grasso. Chris Gaston finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds while also recoding three blocks and Brenton Butler had nine points.