Five of six Fordham Rams scored in double figures Saturday afternoon up at Rose Hill and in the second half the Minutemen of UMass could not stop shots coming from the distance. And with a short handed roster the Rams made the best of it before the home crowd in a 82-69 Atlantic-10 Conference win.
Certainly this was a win Fordham needed in snapping a six game losing streak and taking their fourth straight over UMass dating back to last season including two from the Minutemen this season in the A-10 Conference. Now the question is can this Fordham team sustain the momentum and win a majority of those remaining nine conference games?
If the three-point accuracy is as good as it was, well there is no question the Rams can get back into fighting for one of those final spots to be a player in the A-10 Conference Tournament that will be contested down in Washington D.C. in early March.
But there is a lot of work to be done if the Rams intend to be a player. It may have started Saturday afternoon with a man- to- man defense in the second half and the three- pointer worked to perfection which has always been a part of the coach Jeff Neubauer plan. Again this was with with a limited roster that has been decimated with injuries and that ability to shoot from the outside.
If Fordham can do this down the stretch and convert 56 percent of their shots from the field, 12 of 25 from distance, indeed they can be a player and climb the ladder with a 2-7 conference record. Still this was encouraging and there was reason for celebrating this win.
“We stayed with our plan and executed as one body,” said Neubauer. “Individuals united. passed and shared. Also our defense was really good in the second half. Reason we had so many assists we made shots. This is how we envisioned our team.”
A major part of the Rams last season, and when they were all at health, was shooting the ball from a distance. You can win games in this conference when that shot can’t be stopped and though UMass is not one of those viable conference teams as Neubauer said, “our guys needed to feel what they are feeling right now.”
Winning a game like this can certainly lead to that feel of confidence before heading to St. Louis next Tuesday evening. They are one of those teams Fordham needs to jump ahead of in order to make this final stretch interesting.
UMass had that four point lead at the half and Fordham went to work with a 19-5 run in the second half. Ivan Raut was 4-for-7 from distance, Will Tavares scored 14, David Pekarek added 12 and the junior Joseph Chartouny had 16 points and a season high 13 assists.
Chartouny said, “I have not had a good year shooting threes, so this felt really good. It is not about getting threes for me, it is about what is good for our team.”
And for the Fordham Rams perhaps this momentum will continue. They need more games like this one knowing there is a lot of work to do with four home games remaining at Rose Hill that includes visits from Saint Joe’s and trips to conference powers Dayton and Davidson.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso