Men’s Basketball Rolls Over Saint Bonaventure, Suffers at VCU


Fordham’s Atlantic 10 journey continued this week with tough matchups against St. Bonaventure and VCU. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

The good times kept rolling on at home for the Fordham men’s basketball team, carrying the momentum from Davidson College back for a rematch against Saint Bonaventure University at Rose Hill.

Their 21st win came last Wednesday at another sold out Rose Hill Gym while the school designated a “White Out” for all in attendance. Bonaventure came in on a two-game skid, losing by six to a rapidly improving La Salle University team and committing 24 turnovers in a two-point crusher to Duquesne University at home.

From the opening tip, the Rams blitzed the Bonnies with an opening 9-2 lead, five of those courtesy of budding freshman Will Richardson, who ended with eight on the evening. Fordham received scoring contributions from 10 of the main 11 who are in the normal rotation, which included 33 points from the bench mob.

Junior Kyle Rose produced well from three for the first time in awhile, pulling in six rebounds and posting nine points on 2-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Per usual, he was tasked with stopping the Bonnies’ leading scorer, Daryl Banks. He’s seen his point totals steady between his overall numbers (15.2) and the games in Atlantic 10 (A-10) play (14.9), making him a consistent threat each game.

Rose put Banks in his pocket the entire game, holding him to 0-7 shooting from the field despite collecting seven points off free throws. The Rams were content with layups inside by eliminating threes from Bonaventure’s offense, where they held them to 2-9 shooting from range.

Sophomore Zach Riley tallied six of his own in only nine minutes of play, while Fordham got five more out of freshman Romad Dean, six from the ever-improving freshman Elijah Gray and seven off the bench from junior Abdou Tsimbila along with his six rebounds.

Graduate student guard Darius Quisenberry, despite him having the “big point total,” only ended with 15 points to lead the Rams. Fellow fifth year Khalid Moore posted seven points, a relatively quiet day for the two best scorers on the team.

Game-changing play from junior Antrell Charlton was what flipped Bonaventure upside down as he dished out eight helpers with only one turnover. The second half was total annihilation from Fordham utilizing a 12-3 run in the middle of the second half, then again taking a 14-point lead later in the game to improve to 11-1 when leading at halftime.

Not only did the Rams wipe the boards 39-24 over the Bonnies, but they had one of their better shooting performances of the year going 39% from distance on 9-23 shooting.

For the first time since 2008, Fordham beat Bonaventure at home and looked like a team that could share a piece of the regular season if they just kept on winning.

Fordham headed back down to Richmond, Va. to face off against Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), a team that has distanced themselves from the rest of the A-10 as perhaps the best team.

The Mike Rhoades experience at VCU has been jarring, in a word. No coach in the conference has done so little with so much, producing NBA players such as Bones Hyland and Vince Williams, winning A-10 coach of the year in 2019 and being precipice of a third 20-win season in six years with two tournament appearances and one regular season title.

VCU’s season, despite dominating in-conference for the most part, has left things to be desired. An A-10 team expected to carry out one of the three projected bids preseason suffered bad losses to Arizona State University, Temple University, the University of Memphis, and Jacksonville University out of conference, let alone dropping games in conference to Duquesne University and Saint Bonaventure.

Before the Fordham game, it took a game winner from Zeb Jackson to beat Rhode Island by one point; mind you, Rhode Island dismissed star guard Brayon Freeman from the team just days before.

In come the maroon Rams riding momentum from the party at Rose Hill to the Stuart C. Siegel Center, a place where many visiting teams go to die. The Rams haven’t defeated VCU since 2017, which came at home on a game winner by Antwonie Anderson.

The Siegel Center was not kind to Fordham; from the opening tip it felt like 2015 again as HAVOC seemed to rise from the dead and spook Fordham. 22 turnovers were forced by VCU which they turned into 29 points off turnovers.

The most telling numbers of the game were the points in the paint. Historically, VCU is not known as a laser three-point shooting team but on their 13 attempts against Fordham they hit five timely ones.

Paint defense has been an area where Fordham excels; they are one of the 20 best teams in the nation in blocks per game and one of the top 100 defensive rebounding teams in the nation. Fordham allowed 42 paint points to VCU and were emasculated on the boards 27-18.

Adrian Baldwin chopped up Fordham’s guard play with a 13 point, 10 assist outing and swiping the ball six times. Little used Nicholas Kern had 17 points, all coming in the paint while not taking a single three.

With the relentless blitz to the basket, VCU also generated 32 free throw attempts and hit 22 of them for a team split of 72%.

Fordham’s lone bright spot came again from Richardson, who scored 21 points on 6-10 shooting from distance, his best game ever as a Fordham Ram. Quisenberry did tally 15 of his own but wasn’t impacting with his scoring like normal.

VCU doubled the ball handler, forced them into open space, then trapped to force a turnover. Moore was victim to this six times. Quisenberry also gave it back five times to contribute to 22 Fordham turnovers.

The loss to VCU didn’t destroy Fordham’s chances of earning a double bye in the A-10 tournament, and it certainly didn’t help, but it was quite telling that the program isn’t quite ready to beat teams like VCU or Dayton.

Fordham’s remaining four contests are very much in their favor; a road matchup on Wednesday night at Loyola Chicago, then at home on Saturday against Rhode Island for the 1971 team celebration. Two games against the A-10 basement lurkers, then a road test against an improved George Mason University team and the regular season finale at home against Duquesne University.