New York, NY—For the third straight December, the St. John’s Red Storm (8-1) defeated the Fordham Rams (3-5) at Madison Square Garden. The 74-53 victory of the Red Storm in the second game of the Holiday Festival doubleheader on Sunday afternoon raised their record against Fordham to 65-21 in their 86 meetings since the New York City rivalry began in 1909.
Directly after the third tie of the contest at 13:23 in the first half, the Rams went on an 8-2 run to assume their largest lead, 19-3, with 11: left in the half. The 24th nationally ranked Red Storm netted the next 11 points to go ahead, 19-13, at 7:55.
At 3:48. The Rams had their final opportunity to tie the score after Chris Obekpa committed his second technical which sent the Rams to the free throw line for three attempts with the Red Storm ahead by three, 28-25. Only the third of the three shots was netted, which cut the advantage to two points. This was the closest Fordham would come as the Red Storm ended the half with an 11-2 scoring run.
St. John’s coach Steve Lavin described his team’s early game’s problems thusly, “We were disappointed with our lack of composure and poise as, as a result, found ourselves in early foul trouble.”
Fordham coach Tom Pecora had a very similar perspective but from an inexperienced team, “I thought we played well for 15 minutes and then after that we looked like a young team playing against a veteran team, which is what we were. We lost focus the last five minutes of the first half.”
The first basket of the second half was a three-pointer by Fordham freshman Chris Sengfelder that cut the deficit to single figures for the final time. A decisive 20-2 scoring run by St. John’s brought its game high lead to 26, 59-33, with 11:28 remaining in the contest. The advantage never again fell below 21 points as St. John’s cruised to a 74-53 victory.
The winners have shown yearly improvement during the past several seasons, winning 13, then 17 and then 20 in the last three years. Their only loss in nine games this season was to top ten ranked Gonzaga. Lavin said of his current squad, “It’s so clear with the empirical evidence that it’s a group that has matured and developed their game both individually and collectively over the course of their career.”
Pecora saw reason for hopes for both teams, “We’ll get better and they’re a good team worthy of their top 25 ranking, obviously a veteran team that’s going to win a lot of games.”