During the first half at Rose Hill Wednesday afternoon, the Fordham Rams kept pace with St. Bonaventure in their Atlantic-10 Conference tilt. Fordham moved the ball well. They took shots from the perimeter and ended the half tied at 37 with the Bonnies.
But this Bonaventure team can score with four good guards that are difficult to stop. Fordham, 1-4, and playing all conference games, tried to stay with the Bonnies but in the final five minutes they failed to score, resulting in a 68-54 loss.
St. Bonaventure improved to 5-1 overall, 3-1 in conference play. In that first half, Fordham showed they are a team that could play with one of the top teams in the conference. One difference though, when Joel Soriano their leading scorer is off the court, the task is more difficult.
Soriano, with less than five minutes to play, was forced to sit after his fifth foul. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Regardless when your leading scorer is gone, and trailing by seven with under four minutes to go, chances are the Bonnies will take control.
“Joel has picked up fouls this year,” said coach Jeff Neubauer. “It’s not my biggest concern. Some of his biggest fouls have come on offensive rebounding.”
A strength of these Rams is the ability to get the ball to Soriano. If Fordham has any opportunities during this unprecedented conference schedule, a lot of the offense will come from their 6 foot, 11 inch, sophomore.
The positives continued for Fordham after a opening game 89-52 loss to LaSalle. Their season was pushed back due COVID protocols which put the Rams in this conference slate of playing two or three games per week. A few days after the loss to LaSalle they got a 55-54 win over a good Dayton team.
This was a game that had more of those good signs for the Rams with Soriano, Kyle Rose adding 11 points, and Chris Austin with 10. Again, they played well in the perimeter but their inability at the free throw line and 11 turnovers cost Fordham to continue their winless streak against the Bonnies that dates back to the 2012-13 season.
The difference also is what the Bonnies have on the court. They have a big three that are difficult to handle. Jaren Holmes, a top scorer in the conference could not be stopped with 26 points, Jalen Adaway added 14 points and nine rebounds. Kyle Lofton came up big with 14 points and six assists.
In due time, the core of Soriano, Kyle Rose (14 pts) and Chris Austin (10 pts) have that potential to be that big three for the Rams.
“When you play three or four guards like they do it’s tough to win,” Neubauer said. “Holmes, what makes him tough and this is true with many good players, it starts with his jump shot.”
Holmes also converted 5-of-7 from beyond the arch.
Fordham will see more of that play from some of the elite players in the conference and with this schedule there is very little time to make the adjustments. The end result is obvious because Fordham is capable of competing with the elite and Neubauer is good at making the adjustments.
But the task is difficult with this conference schedule and one that was adjusted because of the COVID protocols. Sunday afternoon as they oppose UMass (3-3) at Rose Hill. After that, a trip to 7-5 Davidson.
“The issue, it was still a four minute game,” Neubauer said. “We were in a fight. We did not score down the stretch. The ball movement was good even in that last stretch”
If Fordham hopes to compile more wins they need to find a way to keep Soriano on the court.
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