Rams Live to See Another Day in March Madness

Fordham Athletics

This is a Fordham men’s basketball team that continues to defy the odds.

Last year there was the Thrill up at Rose Hill in the Bronx and reaching the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship Tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Rams, as they say, went beyond expectations with rookie coach Keith Urgo.

But Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn, before a sparse first game tournament crowd, Fordham continued to defy the odds as a Number 12 seed in a conference that has the potential of sending two teams to the upcoming NCAA Men’s basketball tournament.

Welcome to March Madness and the Rams in the A-10 conference tournament.

Antrell Charlton scored five of the Rams’ 10 points in overtime and Fordham advanced with a 71-63 win over Davidson. Fordham, winners of their last three A-10 first round games, advances and plays No. 5 VCU Wednesday afternoon at the Barclays Center.

The Rams are once again the underdogs to be one of those teams representing the A-10. They struggled this season as Urgo led a young team in conference play, 12 wins overall after winning 22 games last year. But they never succumbed to the challenge and managed to overcome major halftime deficits. Urgo has always said his team was getting better down the stretch after their struggles playing a competitive schedule of non conference games with St. John’s and Texas.

Rose Hill became a Thrill again in mid February when the Rams, before a sold out crowd in the confines of the oldest college basketball venue in the nation, got their first home conference win of the season over Duquesne, 79-67. That may have been the start to get them prepped for the tournament.

They trailed at the half, by as many as 13 points at one point. The Rams shot 22 percent in the first half, (35 percent from the field overall) and Davidson would eventually take command. But the urgency that Urgo has always preached got his Rams to tie the game 61-all on a Kyle Rose layup with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

For some reason it does not matter the deficit, or how many seconds left, the conference tournament always has a March Madness story for the Rams. For now, these Rams live another day and always seem to defy the odds.

We talked at halftime we got 20 minutes of what we got,” Urgo said. “Look in locker room, we gave each other energy. We went out there and played with more energy. It’s carried over the last few games. Now it’s three games in a row defending and rebounding. I know the very least we are going to give you the energy on the defensive zone.”

Davidson defeated the Rams last month at Rose Hill and at home in January. In both games the defense went to work in the second half. The Rams made it a contest before losing down the stretch. They learned from their mistakes and Tuesday made the adjustments especially with that run in overtime.

We talked over the last eight hours keeping them out of the paint,” Urgo said. “We executed that very well, also referring to forcing Davidson into 20 turnovers that broke the Wildcats previous season high of 15.

Sophomore guard Will Richardson was a major reason for the comeback, scoring 16 of his season high 20 points after halftime. Josh Rivera connected on six of his seven field goal attempts and finished with 14 points in 22 minutes of time on the court. And the team effort of Abdou Tsimbila with a game high 10 rebounds with nine points and two blocks, and four assists.

The Rams always believe they are never out of a game, especially in March at the conference tournament in Brooklyn. Richardson shot 6 for 14 (3 for 8 from 3-point range) and Rivera 6 of 7 from the field to finish with 14 points. When they are playing in March, as seen last year at Barclays, Urgo will let them shoot the ball and take their chances.

Confidence in me having that going into that second half knowing we have nothing to lose,” Richardson said. “Coaches gave me the game plan having trust in half court defense. Thought we could win it from the beginning. We been in rough spots other than today. Still we practice on it all day and fix on our mistakes .If we’re open take your shot. Coaches have confidence in our shots.”

Said Tsimbila “ This conference anybody can beat anybody. Our goal was to be the best at the end of the year.” He said the same goal is in their mindset going into their Wednesday second round game with VCU. a team that handled the Rams last month at home with a 75-60 win.

Then, though, the Rams and their coach saw this young team mixed with a few seniors coming together to make their run towards their March Madness at Barclays Center. It’s a team effort even with the sophomore Rivera who stood out with Urgo.

The goal and mentality of Urgo is to play until the conference championship game Sunday afternoon at Barclays.

Obviously it’s a good feeling we don’t want to be finished,” Urgo said. ‘We didn’t have the season we hoped for with wins and losses. These guys know they are capable of winning more games. Our goal is to be playing Sunday if we can get there.”

After all it is March Madness for these Rams. Anything is possible.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter (Formerly X) @ Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

Get connected with us on Social Media