The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


A Tale of Two Games: Men’s Basketball Starts the Season

Fordham opened its season with two nonconference games, winning the first against Wagner before dropping the second to Cornell
Fordham split its first two regular season games, overcoming a second half deficit in the first to beat Wagner, but failing to complete a comeback against Cornell in the second.

The Fordham men’s basketball team played its first regular season games last week. The two games followed similar scripts but amounted to different results, as the Rams came back to beat the Wagner College (WAG) Seahawks on Nov. 6 in overtime, 68-64, but lost to the Cornell University (COR) Big Red on Nov. 11, 78-73. 

The season opener against Wagner featured a raucous crowd, with Fordham fans packing the Rose Hill Gymnasium to fearlessly cheer on the home team. The so-called “Shirtless Herd” and company began filling the seats an hour before the start of the game; those who opted to wear clothing donned the free giveaway of a “Rose Thrill” themed shirt. 

As anticipation built, the lights died down and both starting lineups were announced. This formally introduced transfer students Japhet Medor, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’24, and Joshua Rivera, FCRH ’26, to the Fordham fanbase. The two joined returning players Will Richardson, FCRH ’26, Kyle Rose, FCRH ’24, and Abdou Tsimbila, FCRH ’24, as the opening lineup to start the season. 

Both the Rams and the Seahawks struggled to connect on their first shots until a dunk by Tsimbila put Fordham on the board and ignited the crowd. Melvin Council Jr., WAG ’25, responded with a bucket of his own to tie the game at two; Council Jr. would go on to finish with 21 points to lead Wagner scorers. 

The first half featured back-and-forth basketball, with neither team separating itself in the early goings. The Seahawks hit a free throw to take a one-point lead with 12:34 remaining, but the Rams, fueled by the energetic crowd, soon found some momentum. Six straight points from three players, Medor, Angel Montas, FCRH ’27, and Elijah Gray, FCRH ’26, gave Fordham a 17-12 lead as the game neared the midway mark of the first half. 

Wagner would not go away, however, as it responded with eight consecutive points to regain the lead, 20-17. Just as it seemed that the teams would continue their wrestling for the rest of the game, though, Wagner opened up a lead heading into the half. It ended the period on an 11-to-2 run to enter the break with a 31-23 advantage. The eight-point margin was the largest of the game thus far.

The Seahawks held their edge to start the second half and led 45-38 with 11 minutes left in the game. Despite trailing for much of the second half, the Rams continued to hang around. A short scoring spurt by Fordham was capped by a Rivera fastbreak dunk, cutting the Wagner lead to three with 6:02 remaining. 

Transfer guard Japhet Medor, FCRH ’24, led the Rams in scoring in both games, posting 17 points in each and connecting on five of his 13 attempted three pointers. (COURTESY OF FORDHAM ATHLETICS)

Despite the lead narrowing, the Fordham crowd remained restless. The Rams entered the game expected to defeat their opening night opponents, and fans in the gym likely did not anticipate losing for the majority of the game. 

Gray took over down the stretch. After a missed 3-pointer by Rivera, Gray corralled the offensive rebound and laid it up to give the Rams a 54-52 lead with 1:44 on the clock. Then, after a pair of made free throws by Rahmir Moore, WAG ’24, Gray drained a contested 3-pointer to extend the Fordham lead to three once again. The gym shook as the teams headed to the bench for a timeout to discuss their game plans.

With 1:06 remaining, the air in the gym was tense once again. Moore missed a layup, but Rob Taylor II, WAG ’25, sat in perfect position for a putback dunk to cut the lead to one. Fordham called a timeout to talk things over. Coming out of the break, Medor was all alone with the ball. He sidestepped away from his defender before launching and nailing a 3-pointer to extend Fordham’s lead with only 30 seconds remaining, 60-56. 

The Seahawks quickly put Fordham’s cheering to rest, however, as they made a layup to cut the lead to two before fouling Antrell Charlton, FCRH ’24, to extend the game with nine seconds left. Charlton missed the free throw and, as time expired, Moore drove to the basket and laid a shot off of the backboard. Tsimbila leaped to contest the shot and seemed to have blocked it to secure the victory, but the referees made a goaltending call, tying the game with no time left on the clock. 

The crowd remained faithful and kept their energy up in the overtime period. Fordham held Wagner to four points in overtime, and Medor put the game out of reach with a 3-pointer to stretch the Fordham lead to 6 with 42 seconds left. Ultimately, the Rams escaped the regular season opener with a 68-64 win. 

Fordham held Wagner to four points in overtime, and Medor put the game out of reach with a 3-pointer to stretch the Fordham lead to 6 with 42 seconds left.

“If the crowd wasn’t in there tonight, if it wasn’t as loud and as rowdy tonight, I don’t know if we necessarily pull that off,” Fordham’s Head Coach Keith Urgo commented after the win. “Good teams, good kids, who work hard and are passionate about each other find a way to get it done.”

The victory showcased some of the skills and shortcomings of the rejuvenated squad. On the one hand, 11 different Rams saw the court and nine of them scored, underlining the depth of the team and the trust that Urgo has in his roster. Medor scored 17 points and 6 assists while Gray scored 16 points and added 6 rebounds. The Rams also demonstrated the same resilience that they utilized last season to shock the college basketball world with 25 wins.

On the other hand, the Rams struggled shooting the ball. Fordham made only 8 of its 19 free throws, a dismal 42.1%, with some of those misses coming at crucial points down the stretch. Furthermore, the team shot 8 for 27 (29.6%) from behind the 3-point line, with three of those coming from Medor and a few of the other makes being banked in.

Those shortcomings were present in the Rams’ second regular season game against Cornell. Despite missing Tsimbila due to an ankle injury, Fordham got off to a quick start, leading 13-9 after five behind more strong play from Gray. 

Cornell Defeats Fordham, 78-73

Cornell made key adjustments, employing a full court press that disoriented the Fordham offense. On the offensive end, the Big Red connected on its shots. Over the next six minutes, Cornell went on an 18-0 to open up a 14 point lead. The visitors did not let up, as the Rams scored just 11 points over the last 15 minutes of the first half and entered the break trailing 45-24. 

Fordham could not figure out how to combat Cornell on either side of the ball in the first half. Urgo made several lineup adjustments, but none seemed to stop the momentum of the Big Red. Luckily, a new Fordham team came out for the second half, ready to work its way back into the game.

It started just as bleak as the first half had ended, with Cornell expanding its lead to 27 points in the opening minutes. But just as the crowd began to check out, the Fordham comeback began. 

Fordham outscored Cornell 49-33 in the second half and was a couple of baskets away from escaping with a victory.

Fordham embarked on an 11-0 run that invigorated the arena, as a comeback felt as tenable as it had all game. Cornell maintained its advantage, but with 11:05 remaining in the game the sturdy lead began to waver. Medor scored 5 consecutive points to cut into Cornell’s lead, 61-49 with 10:35 to go.

Fordham caught a break when Cornell’s starting guard Chris Manon, COR ’24, fouled out of the game with 7:40 remaining. The Rams continued to apply pressure.

Richardson nailed a three with just over five minutes left to make the score 67-60. After an offensive foul was called on Cornell, Gray made a jumper to cut into the deficit. Although the Big Red countered with a made basket of their own, Richardson came back down the court with his eye on the bottom of the net. 

Richardson took the screen set by Dean, stepped into a 3-point shot, got fouled and still made the basket. The astounding 4-point play made it a one-possession game for the first time since the 12:11 mark in the first half. 

Despite the swing in momentum, Cornell kept its composure. It responded with a basket of its own before forcing a turnover and making another layup to stretch its lead back to 7. The Rams answered with a strong drive by Rivera, resulting in a foul, but he could only make one of his free throws. 

Fordham made a legitimate effort down the stretch to make the once foregone game competitive, but came up just short when the final buzzer sounded, losing 78-73. The loss mirrored aspects of the Rams’ first game, with Fordham getting off to a slow start but finishing strong. 

Against a superior opponent in Cornell, though, the mistakes in the early going resulted in too big of a gap to breach. Additionally, Fordham again missed a substantial number of free throws, shooting just 14-25 (56.0%) from the charity stripe. Two of those misses occurred in the final two minutes of the game. 

Nevertheless, the effort demonstrated by the Rams highlights that there is no insurmountable lead in the Rose Hill Gymnasium, which will surely help the team down the line. Fordham outscored Cornell 49-33 in the second half and was a couple of baskets away from escaping with a victory. Medor scored 17 points once again, while Richardson and Rivera added 12 points each. 

The 1-1 start for the Rams may be bittersweet, but they will look to turn the page as they travel to St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam tournament. Fordham will face Norfolk State University on Nov. 17.

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About the Contributor
CHRIS MURRAY, Former Sports & Health Editor
Chris Murray (he/him), FCRH ’24, is a former sports & health editor at The Observer. He is a political science and humanitarian studies double major with a minor in psychology. He is a Mets, Knicks and Rangers fan and spends his time trying new food or enjoying the outdoors.

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