Originally published in The Fordham Ram on March 2, 2016.
Coming off of a tight win against La Salle on Wednesday night, a raucous crowd in the Rose Hill Gymnasium greeted the Rams on Saturday, Feb. 27 for their matchup with Davidson. The Rams obliged the home crowd with a resounding victory, 91-82. The Rams are now 15-12 overall and 6-10 in the Atlantic 10, good for ninth in the conference.
The game started off with a back-and-forth dynamic, with the Rams taking a five-point lead off a three from senior guard Mandell Thomas with just under 16 minutes left in the first half. The three was Thomas’ first field goal attempt since returning from injury. He ended up finishing the game with six points off of two threes.
Despite playing against the high-powered offense of Davidson, the Rams were able to put the clamps on early, leading 21-11 with 10 minutes left in the first half. Soon, however, the Rams went cold, and the Davidson players got hot, especially guard Jack Gibbs. Gibbs is the third leading scorer in Division I Men’s Basketball, averaging 24.8 points per game. He hit two threes along with two assists during a 13-0 run that put Davidson on top 24-21 with just under five minutes remaining in the half.
After trading two-point field goals, sophomore guard Christian Sengfelder hit a three to tie the game up at 26. A Gibbs free throw gave the lead back to Davidson for a moment, but a layup from freshman guard Joseph Chartouny put the Rams up by one, 28-27. After more exchanged buckets, the score changed, but the lead remained the same. The Rams were up 35-34 heading into halftime.
Despite the close score, the Rams seemed to outplay the Wildcats in the first half. They had 21 rebounds, seven of which were pulled down by senior forward Ryan Rhoomes, to Davidson’s 14. On top of the rebounding margin, they also committed fewer turnovers than the Wildcats.
The score got knotted up pretty quickly in the second half, but with 17:26 left in the game, Chartouny hit a layup and converted on the three-point play to make to give the Rams a 44-42 lead, and they never relinquished it.
While the lead grew to as many as nine points over the next few minutes, Davidson charged back to make it a three-point game with just under nine minutes to play. However, another big three from Sengfelder snuffed out that comeback attempt. A pair of free throws from sophomore guard Antwoine Anderson negated the following Davidson jumper, and then the floodgates opened. As they have often done in this later part of the season, the Rams used the three-pointer to bury their opponent. Sengfelder hit one, and freshman forward David Pekarek hit two in a row. All were unanswered, making the score 74-59 with just under five left to play. Davidson broke the double-digit lead late, but too late to seriously threaten. The Rams cruised to the finish line with a 91-82 victory.
Chartouny came alive for the Rams in the second half, ending up just three rebounds shy of the first triple-double in Fordham program history with a career-high 24 points to go along with 13 assists and 7 rebounds. “He has really been a special player for us here in his freshman season,” said head coach Jeff Neubauer. “He has made his teammates better consistently. He does so many little things – blocking out and passing – that just make other people better.”
Rhoomes had 18 points and 12 rebounds, good for his ninth double-double of the season. The Rams, as a whole, played well, with all five starters scoring double-digit points – the aforementioned Chartouny and Rhoomes, along with Sengfelder (17), Anderson (11) and Pekarek (10). The Rams shot an almost unheard of over 50 percent from the field, including 10 of 25 from three.
“When we lost a couple close ones three weeks ago, we said ‘Hey, we’ve only got three guys in double figures,’” said Neubauer. “We need five guys contributing. So this is certainly a step in the right direction. Our team is going to build on this game.”
The Rams also played stalwart defense against an incredibly tough Davidson offense. While Gibbs did score 21 points, only nine of them came in the second half. Fordham forced 14 turnovers, nine of which were off of steals. On the glass, the Rams outrebounded the Wildcats 36-30.
“It’s certainly our best win,” said Neubauer. “This is by far the best team that we’ve beaten. Going into today’s game, Davidson’s [Ratings Percentage Index] was 57.
“This is certainly our signature win.”
Rhoomes was emotional in one of his final games at Rose Hill, kissing center court after being subbed out with 50 seconds left. “In all four years being here, this is probably one of the best wins we’ve had,” said Rhoomes. “I didn’t really know what to feel. My emotions were just going crazy.”
The Rams will play their last away game of the season this Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at Duquesne. Their final home game, Senior Day for Mandell Thomas and Ryan Rhoomes, will be the following Saturday at 2 p.m.