To quote the early 90’s Hip Hop group, the Digital Underground, “It’s the same song.” Collectively, the Fordham Rams can’t put the ball in the basket when it matters most. On countless occasions the narrative would suggest, that it’s the beginning of the game [first half] that counts more.
The James Madison Dukes beat the Rams 75-69 last Friday night.
Facing the Dukes at home [the Bronx], as in almost every home game, the Rams got off to a slow start and then rallied late in the second half. In the first half, the Rams had difficulty getting to the basket due to the Dukes zone defense [which wasn’t anything spectacular] that they were playing. The Dukes trapped the middle and for the life of the Rams, they had no idea how to draw the defense in and get at least one player open for an easy basket.
But instead, the Rams opted to shoot three pointers, when they aren’t the most effective three-point shooters in the whole Atlantic 10 conference.
The Rams closed out the first half with 19 points, a season low thus far.
Matt Lewis scored 22 points and Darius Banks dropped 19 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Dukes, who improved to 7-4 with the win. Their teammates Julien Wooden added 9 points and Deshon Parker closed out the game with seven dimes [assists].
The Rams box score was nearly identical. Erten Gazi scored 21 points, a career high. While Jalen Cobb  and Ty Perry  combined for 29 points. The Rams now sport a ledger of 5-6. They are now the losers of four straight.
In the second half, with 4:43 left, the Rams cut the lead to 9. They then cut lead to 8 with 3 minutes to go. The Rams eventually cut the lead to three [65-62] after Perry knocked a three with a little less than a minute to go. Unfortunately, they fell short due to being tired. The Rams resorted to sending the Dukes to the free throw line to save time on the clock. The Dukes hit their free throws.
Any assessment would conclude that after expending all that energy to try to tie the game, the Rams had nothing left in the tank to seal the victory. These late starts continue to haunt the Rams.
The Rams have nine days off in between games. They return to the court after the Christmas holiday against Coppin State University Eagles.
“We had a lot of momentum in the second half,” said Fordham Head Coach Jeff Neubauer. “The long layoff ahead will do us some good. We are going to relax, clear our heads and come back with a full-focus when we get back on the court against Coppin State.”
Fordham plays the Eagles next Monday [12/30/19] at home. The Eagles are coached by former Maryland Terrapin Juan Dixon. Dixon won a NCAA championship in 2002. He was also the focal point of an HBO Real Sports segment two years ago. As for James Madison, they take on Hofstra at home [in Virginia] next Saturday [ on 12/28/19].