Originally published in The Fordham Ram on March 4, 2016
In their final road game of the regular season, the Rams traveled to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne on Wendesday. Fordham continued to demonstrate the offensive prowess they showed in the previous game, winning 78-69. Fordham now sits at 16-12 and 7-10 in the Atlantic 10.
Fordham got off to a slow start – as it has in most games this season – falling behind 7-0 in the opening minutes. They got on the board with a pair of free throws from freshman guard (and now six-time A-10 Rookie of the Week) Joseph Chartouny. He sparked a 10-2 run for the Rams over the next three minutes, giving them a 10-9 lead with 14 minutes left in the first half.
Neither team would take a lead larger than four until the seven minute mark, when freshman forward David Pekarek continued his hot three-point shooting, hitting two in a row to give the Rams an eight-point lead, 32-24. The Dukes pulled within four on a few more occasions, but never for long. Sophomore forward Christian Sengfelder hit a three with just under a minute left to give the Rams a seven-point lead, and a Pekarek layup made it nine. Although Duquesne brought it back to six, senior guard Mandell Thomas hit a buzzer-beater three to make the halftime score 45-36 Rams.
The 45 points scored by Fordham was its most in a first half since hanging 47 on Central Connecticut. Senior forward Ryan Rhoomes nearly had a double-double in the first half, pulling down seven rebounds to go along with his nine points.
The Dukes came out firing in the second half, going on a 14-5 run to even the game at 50 within six minutes. Over the next 10 minutes, the two teams wrestled over the lead, with neither one able to pull ahead by more than three points.
With five minutes left, Thomas hit a three to knot the game at 63, followed by another a minute later to make it 66-63 Fordham. Those threes served as the genesis of a 13-2 run, which gave the Rams a 76-65 lead with under a minute to play. Thomas hit another three in that run, making him 4-4 from deep on the day. The Dukes made a couple more shots but never really had a chance to get it back, eventually falling by the final score of 78-69.
The Rams’ success was largely due to three-pointers. They made 13 shots from behind the arc, good for a success rate of 52 percent. They outrebounded the Dukes 34-26 and forced 17 Duquesne turnovers, eight of them steals. The Rams did commit 16 turnovers of their own, however.
Fordham continued to score as a team in this game, with five players in double digits. Rhoomes led the way with 15 points, along with 17 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the year and fifth in last six games. Chartouny and Sengfelder had 13, Thomas had 12 and sophomore guard Antwoine Anderson chipped in 11. Head coach Jeff Neubauer has pointed to team scoring as a key to success, and the numbers back it up: the Rams are 6-0 when five players finish in double figures.
The Rams win locked them into at least the eighth seed in the A-10 tournament, meaning they will avoid the dreaded play-in game.
The Rams will hope to finish the regular season on a high note on Saturday at 2 p.m., when they will host the University of Rhode Island. Besides it being chance for their fourth win in a row heading into the A-10 tournament, it will also be Senior Day for Ryan Rhoomes and Mandell Thomas.