Men’s basketball: Hot-shooting Fordham thumps UMass

  • Noah Fernandes and the UMass men's basketball team fell on the road at Fordham Monday night, 85-73. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer 
Published: 2/28/2022 9:58:39 PM

The 3-pointers were raining down on Monday evening at Rose Hill Gym. Unfortunately, not enough of them came from UMass shooters. 

The Minutemen traveled to the Bronx to take on Fordham in the first of a home-and-home series with the Rams. After a close first half, Fordham pulled away early in the second, knocking down 11 triples and running away to a 85-73 Atlantic 10 win.

Three Rams posted double-digit points – Chuba Ohams finished with a career-high 23 points, followed by Josh Colon-Navarro (14), and Rostyslav Novitskyi (10). The team’s 85 points represented their best offensive performance since an 89-83 double-overtime win over Central Connecticut State University in mid-November. It was their highest scoring regulation performance this season.

“I'm hoping we don't give up 11 three’s, I'm hoping we don't give up 15 points in second chance opportunities in the first half,” UMass head coach Matt McCall said on what his team needs to improve for their next game. “We turned the ball over too much, we had 14 turnovers in the game. I have to watch the tape, but I don't know how great our ball movement was. But we’ve got to be better on Ohams, we can’t let him go 23 and 11.”

For the Minutemen (12-16), Noah Fernandes and Michael Steadman co-led in scoring with 13 points apiece. 

Both teams struggled with shooting in the opening minutes. Though Fordham (14-14) got several opportunities on its first couple possessions, it went just 1-for-6, setting the tone for the first few minutes. The Minutemen lost their point guard early; Fernandes took two fouls in the first 3 minutes, 12 seconds, sending him to the bench for most of the first half. 

The teams traded buckets back and forth, neither able to get more than a four-point gap before the other would pull within range. The Minutemen took the first five-point lead of the game off a Greg Jones triple with 8:03 remaining in the half, up 18-13, but Fordham promptly went on a 6-0 run to make it 19-18 Rams. The teams traded leads, tying the game up several times, before the Rams went on a run late, determined to put some space between themselves and the Minutemen heading into the half.

After Fernandes tied the game up 33-33 with two free throws, Darius Quisenberry scored four points over the course of 12 seconds in his first game back from an injury, throwing up a layup and tipping in a steal shortly after. Down 37-33, Fernandes hit a triple with four seconds to go that looked like it would send UMass into the half down just a point, but Kyle Rose hit a buzzer-beater at the half court line that counted for Fordham, sending the Rams into the half ahead 40-36. 

Fordham exploded beyond the arc in the second half, sinking five triples in the first eight minutes of the second half to jump out to a 63-48 lead that forced UMass to take a timeout in an effort to slow their momentum. The Minutemen made a couple efforts to close that gap, stringing together a couple of 4-0 runs but never putting together anything more than that. 

Fordham sealed the game with 7:57 left in the second quarter, when Ohams showed off some fancy footwork in the post and pulled off a massive dunk to make it 70-57 Rams. UMass chipped away at several points late but couldn’t get enough stops to truly threaten. Fernandes, T.J. Weekes and Javohn Garcia put together a 6-0 run that pulled the Minutemen within seven points with 6:02 left, but Ohams put up back-to-back buckets to make it 74-63 Fordham immediately after. UMass couldn’t make up the difference before the clock ran out. 

The two teams play again in Amherst on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

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