Fordham Wins First Conference Game of the Season
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By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 9- A one-sided 83-65 win by the Fordham Rams (6-15, 1-9) over the Saint Louis Billikens (10-13, 2-8) on Saturday afternoon at Rose Hill ended the nine-game winless streak of the Rams in Atlantic-10 Conference games this season. The campus gym was filled with Fordham enthusiasts, many of whom attended the annual Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony and luncheon earlier in the afternoon.
The Fordham fans were cheering wildly as the Rams scored the first 12 points of the game. The visitors cut the deficit to two points by the mid-point of the first half after going on a 15-5 scoring run. Interestingly, the first points scored by a Saint Louis player were a three pointer by the only Bronx native on the court, Ash Yocoubou.
The 6-4 junior is playing his first season with the Billikens after transferring from Villanova. The much travelled young man began his high school basketball years at the American Christian School on Pennsylvania before moving to Long Island Lutheran, where he was the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year in his senior season, 2011.
The Rams never lost the lead throughout the first half. The half ended with Fordham ahead by a score of 33-29.
Saint Louis scored the first four points of the second stanza to tie the score for the first and last time of the game at 19:06. Thirty-two seconds later, a free throw by Mandell Thomas gave Fordham the advantage again, which they never relinquished. A Fordham lead of 45-41 at 14:35 was followed by 11 unanswered points by Fordham that raised the advantage to 15 (56-41) with 11:16 left to play.
The Rams’ advantage was cut to six, 58-52, at 8:54 after an 11-2 scoring run by the visitors. Fordham’s domination during the final nine minutes, 25-13, gave the Rams an easy win.
After the contest concluded, Fordham’s head coach Tom Pecora spoke of the reasons for his team’s victory, “We were the more aggressive team. They [Rams] went to the free throw line 39 times.” The 30 free throws and 39 attempts were both season highs for the Rams. The visitors only went to the charity stripe 16 times and sunk 12 shots. “We took care of the basketball, 11 turnovers. They really played under control.”
The Rams only turned the basketball over four times in the second half. The Rams scored 50 in the second half on 66.7 percent from the floor. The Rams also controlled the boards, 33 rebounds to 24 for Saint Louis.
Fordham freshmen Eric Paschall and Chris Sengfelder led the scoring with 22 each. They are the only Division I freshman teammates who have averaged in double figures of points and more than five rebounds each per game. Pecora lauded them, “They’re not freshmen anymore; they’ve played so many minutes.” Sophomore Jon Severe (12) and Mandell Thomas (10) also scored in double digits for Fordham.
A freshman, Davell Roby, led the four double digit scorers on the Billikens with 16. The Bronx’s Yocoubou scored 10 to keep his season average to double figures (10.0 ppg.).
Fordham travels to the University of Richmond for its next game on February 11. Saint Louis returns home to host Dayton on February 10.