NEW YORK – The GW men’s basketball team entered Saturday’s match-up against Fordham in the world’s most famous basketball arena, Madison Square Garden, looking to rebound from last week’s difficult home loss to the Xavier. Unfortunately for the Colonials, past problems resurfaced in another hotly contested Atlantic 10 affair as the Colonials fell to the Rams 80-75, despite a gritty comeback effort in front of 19,383 fans. Two Fordham scoring runs and the team’s ability to get to the free-throw line (22-of-32) hurt the Colonials.
GW cut a 10-point Fordham lead to three at 74-71 with 37 seconds remaining as freshman Marquin Chandler (six points) sank two consecutive three-pointers, with the second coming off a steal of an in-bounds pass. But the Colonials were unable to get any closer as Fordham sealed the win by hitting its free throws down the stretch.
“We didn’t quit, which is the story of our season,” GW coach Tom Penders said. “We play, we fight, we scratch. We just haven’t had much success in the `w’ column.”
After the Colonials tied the score at 54-54 on a Chris Monroe (17 points, 4-of-9 overall) free throw with 9:49 remaining, GW’s shooting woes returned. Fordham opened its largest lead of the game at 69-58 with only 5:07 remaining. No fouls were called on the home team during the six-minute run and the Rams’ Duke Freeman-McKamey scored 12 of his 16 points in that stretch.
Fordham coach Bob Hill praised Freeman-McKamey for propelling Rams’ game-breaking run.
“We were trying to get a break-out game for Duke (Freeman-McKamey) and hopefully this one is it because I thought he came in and sparked us,” Fordham coach Bob Hill said.
Although Saturday’s contest against Fordham started like so many others for the Colonials (7-11, 1-4 A-10), who committed four fouls before the Rams (11-6, 3-2 A-10) committed their first, foul trouble was not the main problem for GW in the first half. Continued poor shooting in the first half (11-for-29, 2-for-10 from three-point range) and Fordham’s dominance in the paint, which included four dunks and five easy lay-ups, forced the Colonials to play catch-up throughout the opening session.
Both teams opened the game with a poor display of shooting, with the first basket coming off a GW steal more than two and a half minutes into the contest. Senior Mike King (five points) converted an easy basket after a steal by Bernard Barrow. A second quick basket left the Colonials up 4-0 with 17:12 remaining in the first half. That would be the largest lead GW would hold in the first twenty minutes of play.
Steve Canal of Fordham answered GW’s two baskets with a slam-dunk, and Jason Harris (13 points) added a three-pointer on the Rams’ next possession to give them the lead for the first time. That sparked a 17-6 run for the Rams, which gave them a 17-8 lead at the halfway point of the first period. During that run, the Colonials went scoreless for more than four minutes.
The Rams extended their lead to 34-20 with 1:30 remaining by way of continued dominance inside. The Colonials were able to close the gap to 10 by the end of the first half with a 7-3 run of their own on three quick baskets by SirValiant Brown, Chris Monroe and Attila Cosby.
“We don’t have a lot up front in terms of scoring options,” Penders said. “They play hard and give you what they have, but the only guy we seem to be able to go to is Attila (Cosby).”
The teams went into the locker room with the Rams leading 37-27. Brown (20 points, 9-of-21 shooting) paced the Colonials scoring in the first half with 12 points.
The Colonials opened the second half the way they closed the first half by going on a run. GW outscored Fordham 13-3 in the first five minutes of the second half enabling the Colonials to tie the score at 40-40. During that run, Cosby (14 points) hit four free throws and Mike King converted a three-point play. The two teams continued to fight back and forth, with the Rams holding a small lead for the next five minutes.
“I would like to see them rewarded with some wins, and maybe it will come in the next game,” Penders said.
The Colonials, who have now lost 10 of their last 12 games, will travel to Duquesne Tuesday night.