By Jason Gonzalez
The Fordham Rams lose another game. The Rams lost yet another heart breaker,to remain winless in the Atlantic 10 conference. The Digital Underground would agree, it’s the “same song”. La Salle Explorers senior guard Pookie Powell nailed a 3-pointer with just 35 seconds to go in the second-half to seal a 73-71 victory, Wednesday night before a crowd of 1,731 at the Rose Hill Gymnasium.
The Explorers completed a season high 14 3-pointers in the contest. Powell scored 16 points. But as impressive as that statistic was, the Rams still managed to be competitive, ultimately falling victim to their shortcomings. The Rams missed grabbing pivotal rebounds under the basket, periodically they took bad shots and committed nonsensical turnovers.
“We lost a one possession game,” said head coach Jeff Neubauer. “In the first half we gave up 14 transition points. In the second half we made more shots. The ball went in the basket a lot more, and we held them [Explorers] to 3 transition points.”
Fordham freshman guards Jalen Cobb and Nick Honor brought the Rams within three [70-67] with 1:11 to go. Cobb scored on a contested lay-up, while Honor hit a clutch three pointer, which was then trumped by Powell’s shot of his own.
“It felt good to make the shot, but it would have been better if we [Rams] had won the game,” said Honor. “I was trying to do what I had to do to so that we can get the win. It was coming down to the wire. I wished we got the win.”
Explorers junior guard Isiah Des connected on four 3’s of his own for a cool 20 points. With both Des’s and Powell’s offensive contribution, they both helped La Salle to snap a four-game losing streak.
As the game winded down, with 1.3 seconds left in the game, the Explorers fouled senior guard Antwon Portley, while attempting a shot from deep to bring the Rams within 1 point. With the score 73-69, Portley was at the free throw line prepared to take three shots. Portley, a good free throw shooter in his own right, made the first two free throws. The Rams are now suddenly down by one basket from sending it into overtime [the closest the Rams came all game to tying the score]. It was at this juncture that Neubauer brilliantly called a time-out.
Upon returning from the timeout, Portley intentionally missed the third free throw, which was then rebounded by freshman Onyi Eyisi. Eyisi then missed the put back for the tie. Portley finished the game with 22 points which was overshadowed by the club’s setback.
“We have to get over the hump and get a win,” said Neubauer. “Heading into tonight’s game our team morale was good.”
Situations such as these can cause a team to fall apart psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. But at 9-10, and now the losers of seven straight, have the Rams been drained of all the above?
“We are in a tough conference,” said Honor. “We need to get a win. We have lost some close games, but now is the time to grind and focus. We are going to grind it out and do what we have to do to get the win.”