Rose Hill Gym provided one last pleasant memory of 2012 tonight, with four Fordham players scoring in double figures in Rams' 82-71 win over Monmouth. (Photo courtesy of Gary Moore via The College Hardwood)
Monmouth head coach King Rice after the game on Monmouth's radio postgame show: (Note: I was able to get this quote from Monmouth's broadcast booth being right next to me on press row) "When teams punch us in the face, we don't do a good job of answering it."
Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"I think the difference was that we came to life in the second half. We took care of the basketball, we only had five turnovers in the second half. I told Chris (Gaston) at halftime that he had to take the game over. One of our goals was to dominate the backboard, and we had 21 more rebounds than them. I think that's what an A-10 team's supposed to do. I thought the guys made great decisions after getting the offensive rebounds."
On Bryan Smith (18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and what he means to the team:
"When Bryan Smith makes shots, we win a lot of games."
On Mandell Thomas (12 points, 3 assists) and his progression:
"His numbers were great today, and you can see his explosiveness. The more time he spends with Bryan (Smith) and (Branden) Frazier, and the rest of our guards, the more experienced he gets. The guys will tell you in practice that he's a freakish athlete, he does things that make you say 'Whoa!' The key is doing it in games."
On his big men:
"They're a lot stronger than the guys they're playing against, but they've got to start dominating. I told the guys, 'the gloves are off. Now I'm going to ride you until the middle of March, hopefully.'"
Bryan Smith on his confidence:
"I never lost confidence, I had to stay positive. If I missed a shot, I knew I'd make the next one."
Chris Gaston (19 points, 10 rebounds) on responding to trailing at halftime:
"We had to protect our house. We played a lot harder than we did in the first half. We felt like we needed to win."
Pecora on his team in general:
"We're getting past the point of being freshmen. Everyone's played enough minutes now."
Nuggets of Note:
- The double-double for Chris Gaston was his second of the year, and first since his 19-point, 14-rebound performance in a losing effort to Texas State in Fordham's season opener. It was also Chris' 54th career double-double.
- The 18 points for Bryan Smith were a season high, and it marked the second straight home game in which his shot making helped propel Fordham to victory, as his outside shooting was an integral part of the Rams' 81-75 win over Siena eight days ago.
- The Rams had four players (Smith, Gaston, Thomas and Branden Frazier, who had 11 points) score in double figures tonight, the second time it has happened this season, with the first coming in a losing effort against Harvard on December 1st. In addition to the aforementioned quartet, Jermaine Myers poured in eight points, four rebounds and three assists off the bench, while Ryan Canty had an underrated effort with 14 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass as Fordham outrebounded Monmouth 51-30.
- Just as Tom Pecora intimated in his postgame press conference, Fordham truly did come to life following a first half in which the Rams turned the ball over fourteen times and went into the locker room trailing Monmouth 33-28. Following the intermission, the Rams shot 55 percent (17-for-31) from the field and 7-of-10 from three-point range down the stretch to close the Hawks out. Fordham's pressure and ball movement was a stark contrast from a lackluster effort in the opening minutes, where Monmouth established themselves as the better team.
- Finally, Fordham was much better when it came to finishing possessions, especially down the stretch, where they outscored Monmouth 11-5 on second chance points and 19-10 overall on the night. The Rams have one more nonconference game remaining, on the road against Mississippi on Friday night before returning to Rose Hill to open Atlantic 10 play against Jim Ferry and Duquesne on January 9th.