Fordham ousts men’s basketball from A-10 Tournament

Media Credit: Zach Brien | Staff Photographer

Freshman forward Jamison Battle goes for the basket. In a game against Fordham, Battle hit the first triple with about four minutes left in the first half.

Freshman forward Jamison Battle hit the team’s first triple of the game with 4:29 left in the opening half of the Atlantic 10 Tournament Wednesday. Redshirt senior guard Armel Potter followed with a triple of his own, bumping GW’s point total to 17 and marking the Colonials’ final basket of the half.

GW doubled its offensive production in the second half, but Fordham’s A-10-leading defense scorched the squad and sent it back to the District empty-handed.

In their third and final meeting this season, the Rams (10-22, 3-16 A-10) dominated the Colonials (12-21, 6-13 A-10) 72–52, sweeping them in all matchups. GW’s 17-point first half was its lowest since putting up 20 points in the first frame Jan. 22 in its first meeting with Fordham.

“They beat us three times this year,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “We just couldn’t find a way to beat them this year and therefore, if you don’t figure that out, then you’re home trying to figure that out all year, and that’s the stage we’re in right now.”

The Colonials, who fire at a .321 clip from three-point territory on the season, hit just 25.9 percent of attempts from beyond the arc. The squad was better from the floor, sinking 36.5 percent of shots.

Fordham outshot GW from the field and at the three-point line. The Rams made half of all shots from the floor and went 8-of-23 from deep. Fordham also stepped up at the charity stripe, knocking down 77.8 percent, besting GW’s 63.6 percent.

Fordham asserted its presence early in the game as freshman forward Joel Soriano slammed a dunk to open the scoring sheet for both teams. Freshman forward Chase Paar retaliated, hitting a jumper from the elbow to even the score.

The duel between freshmen forwards continued as Soriano netted a jumper of his own on the opposite end of the court. But again, Paar responded with another bucket in the paint. Sophomore guard Jalen Cobb answered with his first triple of the game. He ended the night shooting 50 percent from deep and 4-of-7 from the field.

Freshman forward Jamison Battle, who notched a spot on the A-10 All-Rookie Team early in the week, worked with Paar for a give-and-go that ended at the rim. He pushed the Colonials within a point of Fordham.

The Rams scored back-to-back buckets to extend the lead to two possessions, but three straight points from junior guard Maceo Jack pulled the Colonials within striking distance.

Battle and Potter combined for the squad’s first and second three-pointers of the afternoon within the five-minute mark. The two combined for the squad’s final points of the frame. Fordham finished the frame on an 11-point run complete with three straight buckets from deep.

“I thought we were out there trying to be calculated and Fordham was just being aggressive to us,” Christian said. “You never want to go down in any performance but especially in a tournament setting where you just don’t respond and you don’t react. I felt like we did that in the second half. It was too little too late.”

Potter opened the scoring in the second half, hitting a jumper in the paint. After notching just three points in the first half, Potter put up 21 points in his final 20 minutes on the court, tabbing a floor-leading 24 points.

“I’m actually feeling great right now,” Potter said. “It’s been an amazing career for me. Through the ups and downs, I’ve learned so much and I’m just so proud of myself for sticking through everything, and I’m proud of myself because I kept fighting and never gave up.”

Along with Potter, four other seniors wore the buff and blue for the final time Wednesday. Forward Arnaldo Toro took two points and four rebounds and guard Justin Williams notched a team-leading three steals and recorded zero points in 17 minutes of action. Guard Adam Mitola and forward Luke Sasser did not see the hardwood.

Williams found himself in the starting lineup after a lower-body injury sidelined freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr., who ended the season averaging 10.4 points and a team-leading 55 steals.

“We had a year where we had a lot of guys that went down,” Christian said. “That happens when you play really hard, but I want these guys to be really healthy. I made the decision that he wasn’t going to play. I just felt like, for our team’s future, for him, I just never want a guy going out there risking further or future injury.”

Fordham kept GW at an arm’s distance, never letting the lead fall below 11 points. The Rams cruised to a 20-point victory, ending the competition with a slam at the rim. The Rams topped GW 72–52.

Fordham was set to face Duquesne, but the A-10 canceled the remainder of the tournament and all spring sports in response to COVID-19 concerns. The NCAA also nixed winter and spring championships because of COVID-19 concerns.

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