Men’s Basketball Makes History in 55-39 Loss to Saint Louis

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COURTESY OF FORDHAM ATHLETICS

Men’s basketball’s struggles reached new depths in their game against Saint Louis University.

By PATRICK MOQUIN, Sports & Health Editor

The descent into madness never ceases for Fordham men’s basketball. Last Sunday, the Rams were defeated by the Saint Louis University Billikens in a 55-39 drubbing. For a season doomed from the very beginning, this stands as a new low point, their sixth conference loss in seven games.

Considering the competence of men’s basketball in recent years, a 65-point game is a good night. That amount of points may or may not mean victory in any given game, but it means that the team did their job. 50 points in a game usually indicates a lackluster performance and another tick in the loss column. It means the Rams were outplayed and need to improve.

In men’s basketball’s current state, getting to just 50 points has sometimes been a challenge within the conference. The team scored 46 points in a loss to Virginia Commonwealth and 44 points in a loss to St. Bonaventure. They were poor performances, but they now seem tame as the 40-point threshold suddenly becomes a new obstacle.

39 points is new territory for the Rams, an almost unimaginable number of points demonstrating a complete offensive meltdown. For reference, the last time men’s basketball failed to reach 40 points was in a 53-39 loss to Holy Cross on December 6, 2004. It is only the third time they have failed to reach 40 points in a game since 2000. 15 years have passed and numerous Fordham teams have disappointed, but none of them have scored so few points as the Rams did this past Sunday.

The game began slowly, as most 39-point performances do. It took the Rams six and a half minutes to score their first points, finally breaking up a 13-0 Saint Louis run to start the game. It took an additional seven minutes for Fordham to reach double digits, at which point they were losing 22-10 with six minutes and 40 seconds remaining.

As the first half came to a close, the Rams were already down 32-16. Two players, Chris Austin, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’22, and Jalen Cobb, FCRH ’22, accounted for 13 of Fordham’s 16 points, and Saint Louis never lost momentum. Opening with 13 unanswered points, they also scored the final five points before the buzzer sounded. Expectations for Fordham were low coming out of halftime, and they did very little to exceed them.

Starting the second half as silently as they did the first, four minutes passed before Fordham scored on a three-pointer from Antwon Portley, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill (GSBRH) ’20. Saint Louis did not lengthen their lead, but Fordham never came close to bridging the monumental gap the Billikens had already created.

With seven minutes left to play, Fordham had only scored 26 points. With an 18-point lead, the Billikens were largely geared down in the game’s final minutes, giving the Rams an opportunity to cut into the sizable deficit. They scored 13 late points against a haphazard Saint Louis defense, but still failed to make up any ground on their opponent and lost by 16 points, 55-39.

With 24 seconds remaining, the Rams had no chance to win, but could still save face as Portley approached the free throw line. Two made free throws would bring Fordham’s point total from 38 to 40, a small pittance in an otherwise disastrous day. Like everything else in the game, the moment was anticlimactic, with Portley missing the first shot and making the second, cementing January 26, 2020 as a particularly embarrassing day in contemporary Fordham sports history.

What difference does a point make? If Portley had made his first free throw, Saint Louis would have won by 15 instead of 16, and 40 points still makes for a shameful offensive display. But to fall short of 40 points, even by one basket, is something that has not occurred in Fordham men’s basketball in more than a decade.

Fans complained season after season throughout the 2010s, but they took for granted the notion that their team would score 40 points. It was a reasonable expectation for fans to have, even as the team struggled to compete against their conference rivals. At particularly dismal points, the team’s supporters couldn’t possibly imagine the state of their basketball team worsening any further. A 39-point performance, much like the new decade, represents a new, unforeseen frontier.