Originally published in The Fordham Ram on March 18, 2016.
On Wednesday night in the Rose Hill Gym, Fordham made its first postseason appearance since the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Facing off against Boston University in the first round of the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament, the Rams kept it close until the very end, but the Terriers ultimately secured a 69-66 victory.
The first half was back-and-forth for the duration. With 14:37 remaining, the Rams took their largest lead of the half off a three from senior guard Mandell Thomas, which made the score 12-7. After that, the two teams traded blows until the Rams took another five-point lead at 7:14, this time off a layup from junior guard Jon Severe.
Starting at the four-minute mark, the Terriers took a lead that they managed to hold until the second half. They went on an 8-3 run to end the half, making the score 35-29 in their favor. This six-point lead was their largest of the game.
Senior forward Ryan Rhoomes had a monster first half on the boards, leading all players with 12 rebounds. Sophomore forward Christian Sengfelder led the Rams in scoring with 10 points. No other Fordham player had more than four.
The Rams were unable to limit the Terriers from deep, allowing the Terriers to make six of their 12 three-point attempts. Leading the way for BU was guard John Papale, who was hit four of six from deep and led all scorers with 14 points.
Both teams committed 13 turnovers in the first half, demonstrating little value for the basketball. BU had 10 steals, while the Rams had eight. They were equal on the boards, securing 19 apiece.
The second half looked a lot like the first. The Rams opened it with an 8-2 run, and they managed to tie things up at 37 with a three from Sengfelder. It was the first of three threes from Sengfelder in the second half, which did a lot to keep the Rams in the game.
Fordham took the lead on five separate occasions in the second half. However, they were never able to hold onto the lead for very long.
The Rams took their final lead of the second half off a three from freshman guard Joseph Chartouny with 4:10 left, making the score 60-57. The Terriers matched with 2:35 left and quickly took a two-point lead, and the Rams tied it up one last time with a Sengfelder layup with 1:45 left, making it 62-62.
With time running out, BU put together a 5-0 run to put itself back in front. A Rhoomes layup cut it to a three-point lead, and then the two teams traded a pair of free throws. The Rams fouled Eric Fanning with 10 seconds left to send him to the line for a one-and-one. He missed the front end, and BU fouled with four seconds left, forcing the Rams to inbound. However, Chartouny committed the final turnover of the game, and that did it. The Terriers outlasted the Rams 69-66.
The Rams were outrebounded 35-29 over the course of the game. No Ram had more than three rebounds in the second half.
Rhoomes had his fourth double-double in a row in the final game of his career, adding 15 rebounds to his 11 points. Sengfelder led the Rams in scoring with 21 points and went eight-for-12 from the field. He made five of his seven three-point attempts.
This game marked the end of the careers of Rhoomes, Thomas and graduate student Ryan Canty.
“We’re really proud of our seniors,” said head coach Jeff Neubauer. “Ryan Canty, Ryan Rhoomes and Mandell Thomas have invested so much in this program over the last 11 months.”
Those three seniors certainly bought into improving the program, playing under a new head coach in their final season. After finishing 10-21 last season, including just 2-14 in conference, the Rams went 17-14 in the 2015-16 season and 8-10 in conference play. “I could not be prouder of this team,” said Neubauer. “Not only for winning early in the year, but for us to be 3-9 in the A-10 and these guys to just stay with it and finish so strongly in the Atlantic 10, I’m really proud of that”.
The Rams will certainly have holes in their lineup next season. They will lose their leading scorer and rebounder in Rhoomes, their second-leading scorer in Thomas and a locker room leader in Canty.
However, they will not be without proven players next season. Chartouny was a six-time A-10 Rookie of the Week and garnered Rookie of the Year honors in the conference. Sengfelder grew as a contributor, averaging 10 points a game and spreading the floor by shooting almost 40 percent from three.
The Rams will be hoping to build on this season’s relative success in the years to come. Said Neubauer: “Now we have to determine where to set the bar.”