Another second half, comeback win for the Fordham Rams that follows a script up at Rose Hill for coach Keith Urgo. After his team took care of business Wednesday evening at home, with another A-10 Conference win over UMass 77-67, Urgo said “It’s a Rose Hill thrill.”
It has been a thrill watching this Fordham team take control in the second half and outscoring the Minutemen, 45-28. It has been a thrill seeing his players respond and adjust after a sluggish first half. And it has been a thrill watching the Rams respond to a rejuvenated and packed crowd in the old Rose Hill Gym.
Rose Hill gets loud and has become a difficult place to visit for the opponent. It has been a part of the script, a real story for the Rams as they continue their quest to finish as a top seed in the conference standings.
The student body has embraced their first year coach and wear Urgo shirts. They display signs asking the coach to come home for dinner and Urgo salutes them for their continued support. The energy has returned at Rose Hill and the Rams respond.
“The energy in the building again,” Urgo said. “How about Rose Thrill? They took it at us the first 20 minutes. That second twenty is the way we need to be playing. We can get so much better tomorrow and the next day. Working hard, the shots will fall.”
Though, again, the thrill is watching how those shots are converted. The thrill is watching the Rams overcome halftime deficits and bouncing back after a disappointing Sunday afternoon conference loss at Richmond. Much of this is attributed to adjustments and a winning philosophy.
The Rams began the process of this resurgence last season with Kyle Neptune, a first year coach who led Fordham to the A-10 Conference Championship quarterfinal round. Urgo was the assistant with many tasks, and Neptune took an opportunity to return home and coach at Villanova University. Regardless, the Rams used a 19-4 run in the second half to take a 51-43 lead on a pair of Darius Quisenberry free throws and widened that lead to 15.
Quisenberry with 21 points, 12-of-14 in free throws, scored his 2,000th career point at Richmond. The grad student guard notched his 28th career 20-point game and said a Rose Hill crowd becomes an incentive at home as the Rams, with 15 wins set a school record.
“The attitude, get right back up,” Quisenberry said. “Feel a little tired, get the shot, crowd gives you a little more of that energy,” he said.” Nothing like Rose Thrill. Never get too high, never get too low.”
He said winning was more important than a milestone career scoring record. The Rams are 7-4 in the conference, best since the 2007 team that opened with the same mark and 19 overall wins are most in the A-10. Fordham has won seven of nine A-10 games for the first time since joining the conference in 1995.
And they once again held an opponent below its season scoring average in six of the past seven games, (UMass averaged 71.8ppg). The Rams held the Minutemen to 28 second half points after shooting .500 in the first.
The thrill at Rose Hill is Quisenberry scoring and leading the comeback with grad student forward Khalid Moore, 19 points and seven rebounds. The thrill has been watching how Quisenberry provides leadership to the younger core who have contributed to this winning environment up at Rose Hill.
“This is a dream come true,” Urgo said about the thrill at Rose Hill. “We don’t take that for granted. After a loss we talk about it after a win. We have the opportunity to do something special here, results of getting the right guys in the program that will fit.”
‘Go into the game with the same game plan,” Moore said. Yes, this has been a thrill up at Rose Hill, a game at a time. Fordham travels to Davidson Saturday Saturday afternoon, a tough task because the Wildcats have won 12 straight over the Rams that included a 57-43 win on December 28 at Rose Hill.
But that loss up at Rose Hill is a far fetched memory. A loss in the distance, because as they say “It’s a Rose Hill Thrill.”
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening live 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube