Jeff Neubauer and official Ed Corbett look on as Fordham battles Rutgers. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
NEW YORK - We talk about the first four minutes of each half as being important. What is it today about those last eight minutes of the first half? In game two, Rutgers held a 19-14 lead. By halftime, the difference had expanded to 14, at 34-20. Only a last-second three-pointer by Joseph Chartouny prevented the deficit from being worse. As it turned out, Chartouny’s trey was only the Rams’ second field goal during that eight-minute stretch.
That halftime lead proved to be enough support. Never seriously threatened over the final twenty minutes, Rutgers posted a 68-53 victory in the nightcap of the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. Rutgers is now 11-1 while the Rams drop to 5-7. The numbers of note:
Possessions: Rutgers 64, Fordham 66
Offensive efficiency: Rutgers 106, Fordham 80
eFG%: Rutgers 53, Fordham 37
Free Throw Rate: Rutgers 23, Fordham 19
Offensive Rebound%: Rutgers 52, Fordham 17
Turnover Rate: Rutgers 27, Fordham 14
Leading scorers and EF:
Rutgers: Mike Williams 19 points, EF 26
Fordham: Joseph Chartouny 17 points, EF 28
Besides the numbers, a major key here was Fordham’s inability to put together a significant run. It wasn’t a case of Fordham’s offensive futility, but rather, credit must be extended to the Scarlet Knight defense. The game was deceptively close, but Rutgers remained in command. From a numbers perspective, the margin was not insurmountable and Rutgers could be reeled in. Putting a finger on the pulse of the game, you felt Rutgers maintained a position of command, especially through the final half.
Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell spoke about holding Fordham to 53 points. The Rams entered MSG averaging 68 points per game. Tempo-free delves further into the Rutgers defensive effort. In this era of the three-pointer, holding a team to an efficiency of 80 is an outstanding defensive effort.
What Rutgers did well: Play hard and rebound. The off-the-charts 52 percent offensive rebounding percentage was highlighted by 16 on the offensive glass. Deshawn Freeman led the way with five.
What Fordham did well: Care for the ball while forcing turnovers. The Rams were able to come up with ten steals, as Joseph Chartouny recorded seven of those. Fordham enjoyed a 21-10 edge on points off turnovers.
Rutgers’ rebounding was so dominant that Fordham was held to one second chance point. The Scarlet Knights had 13. Rutgers was a force inside, leading the way 42-24 on points in the paint.
“Thank you for coming. Tough game, well coached team, different kind of game for us. We needed our whole bench. We had a few guys under the weather, so we had to use the whole bench. Mike Williams has been great all year. They press and he handled it. They missed some open looks, and we emphasize rebounding every day. We have a lot of guys who can rebound. In the first half, we were really locked into a team that can shoot the three. Madison Square Garden is a special place with the energy inside and out of the building, and it was great to play well against a local team here. This team was not looking to Seton Hall, this team is locked into the philosophy one game at a time. Now we have them on Friday. They are a big challenge and I like challenges as a coach. Seton Hall is well coached, Willard does a great job and they have some great players. I am glad people have an opinion that we play hard. We try to do that, but have to grow.” - Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell
“I’ve been here before, had the feel of the court. It was fun. I had my family and friends here, a lot of fun.” - Rutgers’ Mike Williams on his return to MSG