Fordham Unable to Contain Furious Comeback by St. Joseph Hawks


Still searching for their first Atlantic 10 division (A-10) victory of the season, the Rams were hoping for a change of fortune last Sunday with a win against the St. Joseph Hawks. Playing in the remarkable backdrop of the New Jersey IZOD arena, the Rams fell 76-70 to the visiting Hawks at the Meadowlands. With this loss, the Rams extend their current losing streak to 13 games and extend their A-10 woes to 37 straight losses to A-10 opponents. It was a tough and emotional night for the Rams, as they were very close to achieving their first A-10 division win since Jan. 28, 2009.

Starting off the game with much energy, the Rams got going with some impressive three pointer shooting by guard Alberto Estwick, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’12. Quickly passing his season average of 10.0 ppg, Estwick’s early 12 points got the Rams a 15-7 lead early in the first half.

Forward Chris Gaston, FCRH ’13, also got off to a good start, dominating in the paint with a couple of three point plays. It was a preview of things to come for much of the first half, as Fordham’s offense overwhelmed the Hawks.

With accurate three point and shooting and dominance in the paint, Fordham eventually built a comfortable 16 point 37-21 lead with 3:10 minutes remaining in the first half.

Fordham entered the locker room with a halftime score of 43-31. Looking almost certain to blow out St. Joseph at the IZOD arena, the Rams were in for a surprise when the second half started. “My greatest concern at half time was not allowing them come out and play hard against us at the second half,” said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora.

After shooting 35.5 percent from the field, the Hawks soon regained their shooting touch. Looking like a completely different team in the second half, the Hawks were able to cut Fordham’s lead to seven with 13:47 minutes remaining.

Along with their newfound shooting ability, the Hawks started to play better defense, contesting almost every shot by the Rams. As a result, Fordham’s impressive shooting from the first half was now a distant memory as the Rams shot 31 percent from the field in the second half compared to 52 percent in the first half.  In the end, the combination of stagnant offense and poor defense by the Rams eventually allowed St. Joseph back into the game.

With 9:14 minutes remaining in the second half the Hawks got within one 55-54. Ten seconds later, they took the lead off a three-pointer by St. Joseph’s Carl Jones. This sudden change of momentum ultimately sealed the Rams’ fate as Hawks began the pull away.

Commanding a nine point lead over the Rams with 4:14 minutes remaining, Fordham couldn’t muster the strength for a comeback and as a result were defeated by the St. Joseph Hawks 76-70.

Falling short yet again, Pecora cited Fordham inexperience playing in front as one of the reasons why they lost control of the game. “We’re not a team accustomed to playing with a lead,” Pecora said. “We don’t know how to win yet.”

On the whole, it was a disappointing game for the Rams as their effort play from the first half was non-existent in the second half. “Obviously they made some shots, but [overall] I wasn’t happy with our defensive energy, our effort,” Pecora said.

As well as the lack of defensive intensity of the first half, Pecora also stressed the importance of veteran players to step up during key moments of the game. “I talked to Brenton [Butler, FCRH’11,] and Alberto [Estwick] and told them that the reason why we have a 12 point lead is because they played well and they shot the ball well,” Pecora said. “I have veterans and I want them to step up and have the freedom and the confidence to make plays.” With the defeat, Fordham drops to 0-11 in the A-10 and 6-17 overall while St. Joseph notches their second straight A-10 victory of the season.

Despite the loss, Pecora believes that the Rams have a bright future ahead of them. With young players like Gaston and Branden Frazier, FCRH ’14, (Gaston recorded his 14th double-double and Frazier netted 17 points during the contest) consistently playing well, it may be only a matter of time before the Rams get their act together. “I have no doubt we’re going to be successful, I have no doubt we’re going to improve next year,” Pecora said.