Carl Jones was difference for Saint Joseph's tonight, making seven free throws in final 62 seconds to lift Hawks past Fordham 66-62 in pivotal Atlantic 10 matchup from Rose Hill. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer)
Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement, directed toward Branden Frazier (24 points, 5 assists) and his performance:
"I'm going to sit next to Branden, because I still love him. (Frazier missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 26 seconds left that would have given Fordham the lead had he hit both shots, and stepped on the baseline with 7.7 seconds left and Fordham trailing 64-62) I told him downstairs that he's won us a lot of games, and he's going to win us a lot more."
On tonight's game:
"A lesson learned, an opportunity missed. The foul line hurt us again, we missed six free throws. (14-of-20) This (Saint Joseph's) was a team picked No. 1 in the conference and we competed with them to the wire. We're moving in the right direction."
On Frazier's missed foul shot:
"I think everyone was so shocked that he missed it that we didn't try to foul right away. He usually makes those."
On the potential missed opportunity:
"The term I've been using is 'oh, wow' moments, because when we win one like this, people say 'oh, wow, Fordham's really good, they beat this team.' We've missed two of those already, UMass here (two weeks ago) and tonight, and I despise losing at home."
On the crowd of 1,982:
"We got St. Joe's coming in and we got less than 2,000 people, so I'm not too thrilled about that."
Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli's opening statement:
"I was delighted with the way we started the game, because we've been battling some illnesses, with Ron Roberts and Langston Galloway, but that's been everyone this year. I thought the pace was dictated by Fordham. I had a good sense that it was going through (Branden) Frazier."
On this being a potential trap game following a win against Xavier on Saturday:
"There are a lot of individual plays we need to improve on. We're 11-7, so we don't have the right to have 'letdown games.' That's (Fordham) a young team that played with a lot of energy and a lot of fervor, and for the most part, we answered that."
On the prospect of a potential Xavier hangover:
"I don't think there was a hangover. This was our first weeknight win in the Atlantic 10 this year. Everywhere else we've played, if we played on a Wednesday or a Thursday, we lost...we were 0-3. We never thought about Xavier on Monday or Tuesday, we only thought about Fordham."
On having a four-point lead late in the game and his defensive strategy:
"Had we been up three, we were going to foul. We don't practice it, but I wasn't taking a chance at it."
On Branden Frazier's progression:
"He's what this league is becoming, longer guards. He has a confidence about him, and I don't know the kid, but he's everything that's good about college basketball: He keeps improving and improving and improving. (We're) only six games in and he's already in contention for an all-league berth with a kid (Chris Gaston) out that's also an all-league player."
On Carl Jones making seven of eight free throws in the final 1:02:
"If you look back throughout his career, there are a lot of big ones he hasn't made, and he knows that."
On the importance of tonight's game, especially since Chris Gaston was not in the lineup:
"I like to think that the game is an entity. You go out for that game and try to win. We won."
On his team's style of play:
"We're not a team that's going to put on a show, that's not who we are."
Nuggets of Note
- Carl Jones, who entered the game a 64 percent free throw shooter, got to the foul line eight times and made seven of the eight, all of which came in the final 62 seconds. As a result, Jones scored the final seven points of the game for the Hawks, who got his first free throw trailing 60-59 following a layup from Ryan Canty, who had another superb effort under the boards with 14 rebounds. Jones' 19 points led St. Joe's, who had three other players in double figures: Chris Wilson and Ronald Roberts, both of whom had 10 points each; Roberts having a double-double by also grabbing 10 rebounds, and Halil Kanacevic, who scored 12 against Pecora, who coached him as a freshman at Hofstra before taking the job at Fordham.
- Branden Frazier's 24 points were just two shy of his career-high 26 that he racked up against UConn on December 21st. Frazier took his share of bad shots throughout the night, but the junior guard played his most aggressive and one of his most fluid offensive games for the most part. Branden also appeared to have been pushed out of bounds on what turned out to be the game-winning possession for St. Joe's, but it was later confirmed that he did indeed step out of bounds on his own.
- For the second straight game, Mandell Thomas scored 17 points, tying the career-high he set Saturday against Rhode Island. Thomas also provided his usual excitement, particularly with a one-handed slam late in the second half that proved just how vital he will be to this team in the years to come.
- Another telling statistic was that the Rams, who have been one of the better rebounding teams in the Atlantic 10 this year, were outrebounded 35-34; and only managed one more offensive carom than the Hawks, only securing eight boards on the offensive glass. Ryan Rhoomes (three offensive rebounds) was the only Fordham player to pull down more than two boards on that end.
- Finally, Fordham's Atlantic 10 tournament aspirations were dealt a potentially fatal blow tonight against a Saint Joseph's team they needed a victory against. Now 2-4 in conference play, the Rams could just as easily be 5-1; and with their next five games being (in order) at VCU, home vs. Saint Louis, at La Salle, at Xavier and home for Butler, Fordham needs to come away with at least two of those five to keep pace with the middle of the pack, no easy feat considering that the Rams have never won an Atlantic 10 road game under Tom Pecora.