Fordham Men’s Basketball Defeats Columbia for Win in Season Opener

Head Coach Kyle Neptune won his debut game at home in front of exuberant fans



The Fordham men’s basketball team won their first game against Columbia, a great accomplishment for a newly constructed team


The Fordham men’s basketball team confidently handled the Columbia University (CU) Lions 77-67 in what is hopefully the first of many wins for the new head coach, Kyle Neptune. After the game, Neptune commended his players for being “locked in” and coming out of the gates with quick, explosive offense and gritty defense.

The Rams held the lead the entire game and created some considerable distance from Columbia in the first 10 minutes, hitting seven of their first 10 shots. In the second half, the Rams’ spirit subsided a bit as Columbia went on a run, but the Lions only closed the gap to nine points in the final minute before quickly losing their grip.   

The first half was easily the story of the game. Transfer student Darius Quisenberry, Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) ’22 and arguably the most dangerous shooter on the floor for the Rams, scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half. He shot six of 12 from three-point range — just a single triple away from tying his career-high of seven at Youngstown State University. His energy was a catalyst for other players, namely Chuba Ohams, GSAS ’22; Antrell Charlton, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’24; and Antonio Daye Jr., FCRH ’23, who scored his 1000th career point off a free throw with four minutes left in the game. This offensive diversity gave Columbia multiple targets to deal with.

“They have just had an eerie sense of togetherness from the very beginning.” Kyle Neptune, men’s basketball coach

Teamwork was crucial for Fordham’s defense as well. “Credit to our guys … They came together on their own,” Neptune said of the camaraderie that he believes helped win the game defensively. “They have just had an eerie sense of togetherness from the very beginning.” 

The Rams never seemed to scramble or panic as players covered corners, switched and rotated with clockwork precision. Fordham limited the Lions’ shooting to just 3 shots for 8 attempts from behind the arc in the first half. When contrasted with Fordham shooting 11 for 22 from three in the first half and 56% from the field, the total domination by the Rams becomes clear. 

The Rams twice held a 22-point lead on the Lions. Big dunks by 6’9” forward Ohams and deep threes by Quisenberry threw the Rose Hill Gymnasium into a frenzy. After the game, Neptune said he was thrilled with the fans’ energy. He attributed the fans’ raucousness partially to the overtime thriller by the Fordham women’s basketball team, slightly delaying the start of the men’s game. 

Nevertheless, the energy carried over and even Quisenberry was riling up fans with his celebration after an and-one call on one of his signature step-back threes in the first half. Unfortunately, he failed to convert the extra point. The Rams ended the half with a 49-33 advantage.

A critical skill that coaches look for in players is short-term memory: being able to forget a mistake, move on, and continue to shoot and play with confidence. Although Quisenberry cooled off shooting in the second half, his confidence was through the roof. Playing dynamically with Daye, the backcourt stars powered drives straight through the defense and opened up looks on the perimeter. The ball movement was impeccable, and on more than one occasion, Columbia found itself completely out of position. 

Before the Lions could react, Ohams was getting easy paint buckets and the Rams were knifing through the defense left and right. The second half demonstrated Neptune’s adaptability, which will be crucial moving forward. As his stars cooled off (the Rams shot 1 for 10 from three in the latter half), the game plan had to change.

The game ended 77-67, cementing Neptune’s first win — the only Fordham head coach to win in his debut since Bob Quinn in 1986.

Despite the Rams’ adjustments, Columbia went on its run. Big men Liam Murphy, CU ’24, and Ike Nweke, CU ’22, irritated Fordham’s defense with interior shots all game, and in the second half they pitched in alongside Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa, CU ’25, and Jaden Cooper, CU ’25, to trim down the Fordham lead. Columbia did a much better job cutting inside and getting close shots, while shooting 38% on threes. 

Defensively, the Lions put more pressure on ball handlers and played the passing lanes much better than they had previously. They were more efficient overall from the field, shooting 42% compared to the Rams’ dismal 27%. This final push came all too late and the game ended 77-67, cementing Neptune’s first win — the only Fordham head coach to win in his debut since Bob Quinn in 1986.

Quisenberry finished the game with 25 points and six threes. Daye had 12 points, four assists and five rebounds. Ohams put up a career-high 15 rebounds, and Charlton also chipped in with 12 points. For the Lions, De La Rosa had a team-high 16 points, as well as a game-high five turnovers in his NCAA Division 1 debut. Murphy and Nweke did their best to help out with 13 and 11 points, respectively. 

Neptune’s exuberant energy on the sideline reflected his pride in the team’s defensive ability.

Despite the offensive fall-off, Fordham’s defense remained scrappy for the full 40 minutes. The Rams racked up six steals and forced 16 turnovers, scoring 20 points off of the Lions’ errors. Many of those Columbia turnovers were due to shot clock violations. Neptune’s exuberant energy on the sideline reflected his pride in the team’s defensive ability. 

Entering this game, there was a lot of anticipation after previously going 2-12 in the 2020-21 season. Neptune arrived with optimism and recruited multiple players to the Rams, including Quisenberry, Daye, guard DJ Gordon, FCRH ’25, and forward Abdou Tsimbila, FCRH ’24. 

Although the fans at Rose Hill were going crazy, Neptune kept this accomplishment humble. “This is just another step on our journey,” he explained. “We’ve been here since June … This is our first game, but this wasn’t the start of the season.” 

The Rams are still not favored to win anything this year in a highly competitive Atlantic 10 Conference. Neptune is attempting to rebuild this team’s legacy from scratch and the Rams’ next game, facing off against Manhattan College on Nov. 12, is an opportunity to continue to take the A10 by storm and counter the underdog narrative.

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