Men’s Basketball Extends Win Streak to Five


Abdou Tsimbila had a career day in his college career, propelling Fordham to a win over Harvard. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

The goal this year for the Rams has been one thing: play 40 minutes of Fordham basketball. That’s been the brand head coach Keith Urgo and his staff are trying to build at Rose Hill. But what exactly does that entail? 

Beyond the extremely physical style, run n’gun offense and infectious culture, the current state of affairs of “Fordham Basketball” include a five-game winning streak headlined by a sweep at the Tom Konchalski classic. 

The multi-team event (MTE) was the first one Fordham has hosted since 2018, but it’s all part of Director of Athletics Ed Kull’s vision to raise Fordham’s profile in college basketball. The event was named after Tom Konchalski, the super scout who wrote the High School Basketball Illustrated (HSBI) for high school basketball recruiting. A name heralded all over the nation as the man who college coaches would call when they had a question on a player.

The MTE began against the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) on Nov. 19, the first ever meeting between the two teams. Coming into the game, Fordham was seen as the far superior opponent and with good reason. But the Flames punched Fordham in the mouth, getting out to a 14-7 lead in the opening minutes and went up by as many as 14 in the first half.  

Former Duquesne University Duke Toby Okani led the way for the Flames with 21 in the game, but was the only player for UIC in double figures. Fordham slimmed the lead down to seven going into the break thanks to two threes by senior Kyle Rose and freshman Will Richardson hitting a long ball in the final moments of the first half. 

But a key factor was graduate student Khalid Moore, who sat all but four minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. Urgo admitted in the post game press conference that the staff had contemplated putting Moore back into the game with those two fouls, but the decision to sit him paid dividends. 

The second half was a Fordham onslaught, which began via fellow graduate student Darius Quisenberry scoring a tough layup. Fordham started to step up their physicality in the paint, drawing a number of fouls to accumulate 19 free throw attempts in the game. Moore went bonkers in the second half, scoring all 14 of his points and hitting a huge three to tie the game at 51.

Junior Antrell Charlton was Fordham’s main facilitator, ending the evening with seven dimes, seven boards and seven points. His role in helping the Rams shoot north of 55% from three in the second half pushed Fordham in front for a 79-65 victory. 

Game two of the MTE was an old school Patriot League matchup between Fordham and the College of the Holy Cross, a team the Rams hadn’t seen since December 2005. Beyond dominating the Rams on the gridiron, the Crusaders had won the last six meetings against Fordham on the hardwood. 

The Rams got off to an 8-4 start with two threes from Kyle Rose and never relinquished the lead. Fordham dominated the Crusaders in every facet of the game: rebounding, shooting at all three levels, blocks and steals. 

Kyle Rose led the way with 15 points, Quisenberry was two assists away from a triple-double (which would have been the first ever in Fordham Basketball history), Moore added 10 points and senior Rostik Novitskyi added 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench. 

Fordham’s perimeter defense was also elite in this game, holding Holy Cross to 23% shooting from distance, including the Crusaders going 0-8 from three in the first half and 32% overall from the field. 

Game three was a much closer contest than expected in the MTE, as Fordham played first time division one program Stonehill College. Similar to Holy Cross, Fordham took a lead and never relinquished it. 

Moore took charge in this game, scoring 24 points on 69% shooting from the field. Junior Abdou Tsimbila turned in one of his better games in his college career, as the center snagged 12 rebounds to contribute to the Rams’ 37 total boards to Stonehill’s 19 in the game. Richardson posted five points and three assists off the bench with Novitskyi throwing up eight points and five rebounds of his own. 

Playing their third game in four days, the Rams did look lethargic at times against Stonehill. Fatigue was a factor no question, and Fordham should have washed Stonehill away by more than 11 points, but for Urgo’s team wins are wins. Quisenberry was named the tournament’s most outstanding player while Moore and Rose made the all-tournament team with Quisenberry.

Following a nice layoff during Thanksgiving break, Fordham returned to the Rose Hill Gym to host one of their biggest out of conference challenges: the Harvard University Crimson. 

A side led by Tommy Amaker, who in his 16th season as head coach is one of the most respected mid-major coaches in the world of college basketball. Since 2007, Amaker has brought seven regular season titles to Harvard and led the Crimson to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2012 to 2015.

The Crimson came into Rose Hill last Sunday as a true test of mental toughness for the Rams. Beyond Arkansas, Harvard is the closest replication to any of the teams Fordham will see in this coming Atlantic 10 season.  

This game included tons of extra baggage as well: In four of the last five meetings, Fordham beat the Crimson once when Harvard was the 22nd ranked team in the AP Poll in December 2012. They also once played Harved in a series of baseball games to determine which school would keep magenta as their school colors. 

McLoughlin dedicated over six decades of service to the university as a player and administer. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham also honored iconic administrator and longtime director of athletics, Frank McLoughlin, with an official enshrinement ceremony of the floor in his name. The hardwood will forever display “The Frank McLoughlin Family Court” in recognition of the six decades of service he gave to the school as both an administrator and basketball player. On top of all that, McLoughlin spent 1977-1985 as the head coach of the Harvard men’s basketball team.

There was pride on the line, plus a benchmark for Urgo’s team to see where they were. 

The game was a battle from the start; both teams traded leads four times and were tied at seven different points throughout the game. Both teams in the first half were not hitting shots. At one point, the game didn’t see a field goal in almost three minutes until Sam Silverstein nailed two free throws to extend Harvard’s lead to three until Darius Quisenberry tied it seconds later. 

Silverstein was Harvard’s main catalyst, with 17 points on 6-14 shooting overall despite Chris Ledlum being the name everyone highlighted before the game. It is worth noting that Harvard had just beaten Loyola University Chicago last Friday, another A-10 team.

Harvard hung tough, even leading with 1:53 left in the first half. But it was a 7-0 Fordham run to give the Rams breathing room heading into the break. Charlton hit consecutive jumpers and Tsimbila dropped in a layup to end the first half. 

Fordham’s start to the second half started with a 9-4 run, highlighted by a three from Rose and a lob from Charlton to Tsimbila for a monster dunk four minutes in. The Rams and Crimson traded blows throughout the second half, even getting as close as two points, but Fordham went on a 10-0 run to end the game and seal an eight point victory, 68-60.

Despite getting only four bench points, Quisenberry, Moore and Rose all hit double figures. Charlton led the team in assists with six and didn’t commit any turnovers. 

But the star of the show was Abdou Tsimbila. He posted a 16 point, 15 rebound, five block effort, by far his signature game in college. As a freshman at Penn State in 2020-21, Tsimbila played just under five minutes per game in 16 games. 

When he transferred to Fordham, Tsimbila was still a major work in progress but picked up some steam once 2022 rolled around, starting the final 11 regular season games. The team went 6-5 in that stretch, and he was a major force on the defensive end alongside Chuba Ohams. This year, he’s been thrusted into a starting role, and has been a capable pivot in the middle.

As Keith Urgo put it in the press conference Sunday, “We think Abdou can be the defensive player of the year in this league.”

But another interesting thing to note in the Harvard game is Fordham’s ability to adjust. The first six games, fans have been treated to a run and gun offense. But they reverted back to their form last year under Kyle Neptune: a slow, gritty, defensive minded team that uses timely shot making by milking the clock.

Come A-10 play, Fordham will need to adjust more often than they already are. The ability they showed to play multiple styles while sticking to their main philosophies is a good asset to have. The last four games have shown the team’s capabilities on both ends, thus winning the Tom Konchalski Classic only emphasized that Fordham is here and ready to fight in the conference.

The team’s next game is Wednesday against the University of Maine. The Rams then travel for the final time until after New Years to New Orleans to face the Tulane University Green Wave.