Colon-Navarro Carries Fordham Men’s Basketball Past La Salle in A10 Opener, 69-61

Rams return from brief hiatus to earn conference win against Explorers on the road



Josh Colon-Navarro, GSAS ’22, scored 17 points off the bench in the Rams’ victory over the Explorers.


The Fordham men’s basketball team defeated the La Salle University (LSU) Explorers 69-61 in the Atlantic 10 (A10) conference opener. In the Rams’ first A10 victory on the road since the 2019-20 season, Josh Colon-Navarro, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’22, scored five three-pointers off the bench in a breakout performance.

Head Coach Kyle Neptune, now a winning coach in the A10, praised his team’s gritty come-from-behind effort, which included long scoring droughts and well-prepared defensive play.

“I’m really proud of our defensive effort,” Neptune said. “Despite being down and not having much going offensively, we stuck to our guns defensively and kept playing hard, and eventually we made some shots which carried us to the end.”

The Rams’ game against the University of Massachusetts scheduled for Jan. 2 has now been postponed.

On Dec. 31, the day after Fordham defeated La Salle, the Explorers reported at least one new COVID-19 case within the program, which led to a postponement of the team’s next game on Jan. 5. One day later, Fordham announced positive cases within its program as well. The Rams’ game against the University of Massachusetts scheduled for Jan. 2 has now been postponed. The new game date has not yet been set, and it is unclear if future games for either team will be affected.

In the weeks leading up to their matchup in Philadelphia, Fordham and La Salle were both indirectly impacted by a new wave of COVID-19 cases, along with hundreds of college basketball programs across the country. The Explorers postponed a game on Dec. 21 against Drexel University due to health and safety protocols within the Drexel program. 

Meanwhile, the Rams canceled an event the following day against Georgia Southern University due to an increase in COVID-19 cases on the Rose Hill campus. Before their game, La Salle and Fordham were forced to withdraw from competition for 12 and 18 days, respectively.

“Bottom line, really proud that our guys came out, despite being a little rusty, and handled business.” Kyle Neptune, men’s basketball head coach

Though both teams were directly affected by the pandemic shortly after the game, their play during the early stages of the contest was also impacted due to both teams’ long hiatuses from competition. 

After the game, Neptune refused to accept Fordham’s long break as an excuse for potential defeat.

“They (La Salle) had a long break too, so I’m never going to use that as an excuse,” Neptune said. “Bottom line, really proud that our guys came out, despite being a little rusty, and handled business.”

In the first four minutes of the game, the Rams and Explorers combined to commit five turnovers, the last two coming in comically quick succession. Fordham took control on a steal with 16:22 remaining, only for La Salle to steal the ball back eight seconds later. 

With 13:59 left in the first half, it was not necessarily surprising to see the two teams locked in a low-scoring 9-9 tie. Though the remainder of the half proceeded in similarly pedestrian fashion, neither team yielded in what proved to be a competitive contest. 

After three more lead changes in the back-and-forth affair, Fordham guard Antrell Charlton, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’24, tied the game at 26 on a jumper with 2:15 remaining, only for La Salle to respond with five unanswered points before halftime.

In the first two minutes of the second half, the Explorers maintained their momentum with three straight scores to take a 37-26 lead. Meanwhile, the Rams had one of their worst stretches all season and failed to score for nearly four minutes.

With Fordham flagging and the lead lengthening, the path to victory for La Salle seemed straightforward. Then what followed was exactly what the Rams needed: the driest seven minutes of basketball imaginable.

Colon-Navarro brought the ball up the court before passing it off and running the length of the baseline to the other side.

Leading by 11 with 18:12 to go in the second half, the Explorers only scored four points in the nearly seven minutes that followed. Though it wasn’t pretty, the Rams managed to scrape together a 6-0 run early on in La Salle’s drought, and a three-pointer by Antonio Daye Jr., FCRH ’23, with 12:29 remaining put them back in striking range.

Following a La Salle free throw, the Rams trailed 42-35 and turned to Colon-Navarro, an unlikely hero for the team. Typically a role player off the bench, the point guard’s opportunities this season have been limited, but two three-pointers in the first half against the Explorers led to more playing time in the late stages.

With 11:30 remaining, Colon-Navarro brought the ball up the court before passing it off and running the length of the baseline to the other side. The focal point regardless of whether he had possession, the guard eventually received a pass at the top of the key and faked his defender before drilling his third three-pointer of the game.

“He’s been our best shooter percentage-wise when we do our drills … I’m proud that he did that tonight.” Kyle Neptune

Now trailing by four, Colon-Navarro’s score proved to be the catalyst for the Rams’ roaring comeback. Fordham scored on seven of its next eight possessions, four of which came from beyond the three-point arc. 

After the game, Neptune said that Colon-Navarro’s breakout game, in which he scored 17 points and shot 5-for-8 from three, was months in the making based on his performance in practice.

“He’s been our best shooter percentage-wise when we do our drills. We all know he could do that, so I’m proud that he did that tonight,” Neptune said.

With the game tied at 42 with 9:42 left, Charlton snuck behind a La Salle player immediately after a defensive rebound and made a crucial steal. He immediately kicked it out to Colon-Navarro, who hit another three-pointer to give Fordham its first lead of the half. The Rams never looked back and established a 10-point lead before cruising to a 69-61 victory.

In front of a crowd of more than 1,000 fans, Fordham’s road victory against La Salle was largely silent but relatively well-attended. It was Dollar Dog Night at the Tom Gola Arena, offering college students returning for winter break a cheap meal in addition to a free ticket with any valid student I.D. 

Positive COVID-19 cases within La Salle and Fordham immediately after the game shut down both programs until at least Jan. 5. Fordham women’s basketball is still scheduled to compete in the Rose Hill Gymnasium tomorrow, but fans will not be allowed to attend. Between Dec. 18 and Dec. 31, there were 201 COVID-19 cases reported within the Fordham community. 

As the pandemic rages on, impacting both teams and a world beyond them, Fordham’s victory over La Salle in a half-filled arena on Dollar Dog Night may be best remembered as conspicuously unremarkable. It was an ordinary sporting event in extraordinary times.