On a windy day in the Bronx, Fordham University honored and showed their appreciation to the seniors of their Men’s basketball team. Will Tavares, Joseph Chartouny, Brenton Petty and Tom Sanchez were welcomed on to the court with their families and given gifts as a token of the school’s gratitude.
There was still some basketball to play, and with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in town, this was not an easy test for these seniors in their final game at Rose Hill Gym. VCU came into this game looking to finish the season 9-9 in Atlantic 10 Conference play and get a better seeding in the A10 tournament.
Fordham got off to fast start playing through junior forward Prokop Slanina who scored six of the Rams first 10 points. But VCU would not back down as freshmen forward Sean Mobley would drain back-to-back threes to give the visiting Rams the lead.
For a majority of the first half Fordham was able to keep star forward Justin Tillman in check offensively only allowing him to score four points. But his presence and size was a massive help on rebounds and drawing defenders inside allowing for open three-point opportunities.
Towards the end of the first half VCU began to pull away as they were able to score baskets in bunches and then set up their press to get turnovers. Going into the locker room, the visiting Rams lead 38-27 behind 50% shooting from the three-point line while holding Fordham to 40% shooting from the field.
VCU had done a great job in the first half of shutting down Fordham’s leading scorer Will Tavares (13.6 ppg) to only two points. But he would not go down without a fight starting off the second half with back-to-back baskets.
“The whole year I’ve been a second-half player, so I wasn’t too worried, I know what I can do, and I saw open spots, and I just did what I do,” said Tavares.
Unfortunately for Tavares and Fordham whenever they tried to make a run and put a dent into the VCU lead, the visiting Rams would drain a three and force a turnover. Things got harder once Prokop Slanina got into foul trouble and VCU’s Tillman was able to get to work offensively. VCU would go on to win this match-up 83-58 behind Tillman’s 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Mobley finished with a career-high 16 points.
“Tillman is a sensational player, and when I look at VCU’s team I see guys that have improved, and you can start with Tillman who improved drastically from last year to this year. But also Mobley is a good example of that as well, you look at when we played VCU in the first game in late December and to watch him now you can see the improvement,” said Fordham Head Coach Jeff Neubauer.
“This is not an excuse but a compliment to Justin Tillman, but when we don’t have Prokop out there it really affects us on both ends of the court,” added Neubauer.
The Final tally for the Fordham Rams seniors was 16 points, and 8 rebounds for Chartouny plus 2 steals giving him 93 on the season one shy of tying his own record. Tavares ended the game with 13 points, with 11 coming in the second half. Thomas Sanchez and Brenton Petty received playing time throughout the game but were unable to get their shots to go down.
“I think Joseph is aggressive most days but with this being his last game here in Rose Hill Gym and also having about 30 or 40 people come down from Montreal definitely could have added to his fire,” said Neubauer. “We still have basketball to play with the A-10 tournament coming up we play Wednesday night, so there was not a big message about senior day I just think for players it’s important because they have family here and it’s their last chance to compete in Rose Hill gym,” he added.
Although Fordham was unable to come away with the win on a senior day, Tavares will never forget his time at Fordham and his final game in Rose Hill Gym.
“I’m leaving like a young man, just more mature, respectful, my games grew my IQ everything has gotten better from being here,” said Tavares. “My favorite moment would definitely be today something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, win or lose it’s the guys I came in with this year and the guys I’m going to leave with and guys I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” he finished.
As Coach Neubauer said, Fordham Rams basketball is not done yet as they will be headed to Washington, D.C. to play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Capital One Arena. The first game will be on Wednesday, March 7th against the George Washington Colonials at 8:30 p.m.