Tom Pecora attempts to make sense of Fordham's 76-65 loss to St. Bonaventure. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
By Patrick McCormack
The Fordham Rams (9-14, 2-8 Atlantic 10) had a set game plan, which was control the paint and rebound, going into its matchup against St. Bonaventure, (14-10, 4-6 A-10) yet Tom Pecora’s team failed to do both in its 76-65 loss to the Bonnies on Wednesday night at Rose Hill Gym.
“That is as disappointing of loss that I have had since I have been here at Fordham, in my opinion,” Pecora said after the game. “I thought my assistants did a great job devising a game plan. We knew what we needed to do, our keys to the game were able to control the paint and the glass. If we were able to do that and really commit to rebounding and defending, we were going to be fine,” the fourth-year coach; whose team was a -12 on the glass and got outscored 44-26 in the paint, said.
St. Bonaventure took control after the first media timeout, when they came out on a 10-0 run to go up 25-15. The Bonnies were able to take advantage of Fordham misses, which allowed them to get out in transition. They were led by Matthew Wright, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the first stanza.
Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt credited the start to the team’s effort in the victory .
“Offensively we got off to a good start and we maintained it,” he said. “We shot 49% from the field. I thought we took good shots, getting to the foul line, and getting 17 offensive rebounds, that helps your field goal percentage,” Schmidt commented.
The Bonnies were able to control any Ram runs and brought a 39-33 lead going in the half. Fordham was able to hang around for the majority of the second half by using a 7-0 run, led by five points from freshman Jon Severe, who had 13 points, to cut the St. Bonaventure lead to 48-45, but the Bonnies came back with a 9-2 rally, which was mainly due to rebounds which turned into transition on the other end, to take a 57-47.
St. Bonaventure, who was led in the second half by Andell Cumberbatch; who had 10 of his 18 points in the final stanza, kept a 10-point advantage until they were able to break it open to 75-58 using the same method they used all game, which was limiting Fordham’s opportunities on their offensive end.
For Fordham, guards Branden Frazier and Mandell Thomas had 20 points each, while the backcourt's lack of effort on the boards in the defeat (only eight total rebounds) prompted Fordham's head coach to consider his long-standing strategy.
“I think there is a good chance we play big for the rest of the year,” Pecora said. “I kind of made a decision tonight that if these guards are not going to play big, then we will. If they are not going to go rebound the basketball, they are all capable of having big rebounding games. Mandell Thomas is as big an athlete as I coached, and in 37 minutes, he has two rebounds. It is not just him, it is all of them, and they have to understand what this is all about. So changes are coming.”
Pecora will need to make these changes before Fordham's next contest, which comes Saturday night against Richmond, a team that defeated the Rams in January in an overtime victory at Rose Hill Gym shortly before the Spiders lost Cedrick Lindsay for the season with a knee injury.