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Bronx Bound Bonnies Face Fordham Wednesday

THE BRONX, N.Y. — We have not seen a Fordham team shine like this in quite some time. The old Rose Hill Gymnasium sells out every home game. A buzz about the basketball team percolates around campus. The New York media even talks about Fordham hoops as frequently as the Knicks, Nets, and Rangers.

It’s quite an oddity.

The Fordham Rams are 20-5, the best overall record in the Atlantic 10. They have a conference record of 8-4, which has them sitting pretty in the standings and squarely in the conversation for a double-bye at the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

The Rams had not eclipsed the 20-win mark since the 1990-91 season—they notched 25 victories before losing to UMass in the second round of the NIT. Fordham joined the Atlantic 10 for the 1995-96 season.

On Wednesday, the Rams will look to make it 21 wins when they host St. Bonaventure.

The Bonnies and the Rams tip off at 7 p.m. with the game airing on ESPN+.

“[The Rams] are a good defensive team, and they’re going to come after us,” said Mark Schmidt, the St. Bonaventure coach who owns an 18-4 record against Fordham. “They’re an aggressive team, a veteran team. They have really good players, players that have been there for three or four years. They’re strong and physical. We need to play through that, and hopefully, we can play better. We will need to play better on the road than we did [at home] to win the game.”

On Jan. 25, Fordham trekked up to the Reilly Center and handed the Bonnies a 79-68 loss.

Bona held a 30-28 lead at halftime, but the Rams scored 51 points over the final 20 minutes to pull away late. Despite the final tally, the game did not feature a ton of offense. Fordham attempted 36 free throws while Bona went 25-of-31 from the line. It turned into a slugfest down the stretch. Nonetheless, Fordham’s 79 points are the most the Bonnies have allowed to an Atlantic 10 team this season.

Since that point, Fordham has won four of five, which includes a ten-point victory over St. Louis. The lone loss during this stretch occurred at Richmond, as the Rams held the lead for most of the game but faltered over the final minutes.

Darius Quissenberry, the team’s leading scorer, is a big reason for Fordham’s strong season. The 6-foot-2 senior from Springfield, Ohio, averages 17.0 points per game (PPG), which ranks sixth in the conference.

Darius Quissenberry scores a layup. (Fordham Athletics)

Since leading his team to a victory at the Reilly Center, Quissenberry has scored 22, 27, 5, 21, and 21 points. The outlier during this stretch occurred at Richmond.

He can score in a multitude of ways: off the bounce, from the mid-range, and from beyond the arc. Quissenberry has made 35.2% of his 3-point attempts on his home floor this season.

Georgia Tech transfer Khalid Moore has also played a significant role on this team, as he’s the only other player to average more than ten PPG.

Moore scores 15.5 per game, which ranks tenth in the Atlantic 10.

The 6-foot-7 senior from Elmont, New York had a terrific game against the Bonnies. He scored 19 and shot 6-of-7 from the floor. He also drained 6-of-8 from the free-throw line.

Moore does not often shoot from 3-point range, but he can hit shots from deep.

In Fordham’s most recent victory at Davidson, Moore scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and drained two 3-pointers. He shot 7-of-11 from the field overall.

He also leads the team in rebounding, averaging 6.7 per game.

But this Fordham team has numerous contributors besides Quissenberry and Moore.

Antrell Charlton, Kyle Rose, and Rostyslav Novitskyi all average at least 7.0 PPG.

Will Richardson, just a freshman, has also played a prominent role on this team. He scored 16 points against the Bonnies, demonstrating that he will be a force for the Rams for years to come.

Yet, the Rams have racked up 20 wins this season due to their defense, which plays cohesively and focuses on denying the ball.

The Rams allow 67.4 PPG, which ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10. (St. Bonaventure ranks third at 66.1 PPG, behind Dayton and VCU.)

Their effective defensive FG% (eFG%), a metric that accounts for a 3-point shot counting more than a 2-point shot, ranks 39th in the country, per KenPom.

“They’re a good defensive team,” Schmidt said. “They’re going to come after us. They’re going to deny stuff and make us go off the bounce. But we need to be able to go off the bounce and be good enough to make a play. It’s about scoring. We need to be able to score the basketball against these guys.”

Aside from Daryl Banks III, the Bonnies struggled to score against the Rams in their first meeting.

The Somerset, New Jersey native led the way with 29 points as he went 7-of-12 from the field and 12-of-12 from the free throw line.

No other player scored more than ten.

Bona shot 18-of-47 (38.3%) from the field against Fordham. When removing Banks III from that equation, the rest of the team combined to shoot 11-of-35 (31.4%).

Multiple Bonnies found themselves in foul trouble against Fordham, which made it hard for this young team to find their offensive groove. The stingy Ram defense obviously played a role too.

Chad Venning, who now averages 12.0 PPG, scored eight and grabbed six boards in just 23 minutes of play. He fouled out with 7:24 remaining when the Bonnies trailed 56-48.

Chad Venning has emerged as one of the best centers in the Atlantic 10. (Dan Nelligan/A10 Talk)

For Bona to pull off the upset in the Bronx, Venning and the Bonnies will need to stay out of foul trouble. Not only do a plethora of fouls limit minutes, but they also give Fordham opportunities to capitalize from the free-throw line.

Moses Flowers also fouled out against Fordham. Yann Farell and Kyrell Luc each finished with four infractions.

SBU needs these players on the floor as much as possible, especially considering that Flowers and Farell have stepped up big-time as of late.

Bona will need to take care of the basketball, too, something they did not do well against La Salle and at Duquesne.

In the heartbreaking loss at Duquesne, Bona turned the ball over an incredible 25 times. The Dukes sped the Bonnies up, similar to what Fordham does, and forced the Brown and White to make bad decisions.

Traveling violations, errant passes, and out-of-control offensive fouls made for a frustrating afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Yet, this young Bonaventure team has still exceeded expectations through 26 games. Not many people saw this team competing in the Atlantic 10 at this point in the season. If the conference tournament began Wednesday, Bona would be the sixth seed.

Not bad for a team that returns zero minutes from a season ago.

Nonetheless, the Bonnies need to get out of this turnover funk.

“It’s all about being ball-strong,” Schmidt added. “You have to play through the physicality. We are a young team with young bodies. But it’s a mentality, and you have to fight through it. If they get to you, you have to make a play. Hopefully, we will be better at it Wednesday than we were [Saturday at Duquesne].”

The Bonnies have a big challenge ahead of them in New York City, the third time this season in which Bona plays in the Big Apple.

Fordham has a stingy defense, and Rose Hill Gymnasium has quickly turned into one of the best environments in the conference.

It should be a doozy Wednesday night, but like anywhere else, plenty of Brown and White supporters will show up to The Bronx and cheer on their Bonnies.

“They always show up. We always have a great crowd [in New York],” Schmidt said. “But Fordham is winning, and their students are coming out. From watching a lot of tape, this is not their first sellout. It’ll be a tough environment, but we have a great crowd. We’re proud and humbled that they come out and support us the way they do. I’ve been doing this for 16 years, and every year we go down there, there’s a bunch of Bonaventure people, and I expect the same Wednesday night.”

The A10 Talk Power Rankings for the week of Feb. 13. (Michael Bergman/A10 Talk)



Between Feb. 2005 and Mar. 2008, the Bonnies dropped seven straight to Fordham. Schmidt took over the program before the 2007-08 season, and the Bonnies have owned the Rams since then.

But times are changing in The Bronx.

Having lost to Fordham in January, SBU could start a losing streak against the Rams Wednesday.

Unfortunately for the Brown and White, I see that happening.

Fordham has lost just two games in The Bronx all season, with those setbacks coming against Davidson and Dayton early in conference play. The Rams have now won three straight on their home floor as a palpable buzz about Fordham basketball exists in the five boroughs.

Wednesday’s game will be another slugfest and another heartbreaker for the Bonnies.

Fordham 58, St. Bonaventure 55


Jack Milko is a current graduate student at St. Bonaventure University. He will graduate with an M.A. in Sports Journalism in May 2023. He also covers the Bonnies for @A10Talk. Follow him on Twitter @Jack_Milko.

Featured image courtesy of Dan Nelligan, St. Bonaventure ’20, and photographer for A10 Talk.

Jack Milko recently graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. A native of Rochester, NY, Jack grew up a St. Bonaventure Bonnies f...