Image Courtesy Fordham Athletics
Heading into their Wednesday night matchup with UMass, there were several factors that Fordham needed to carry over from Monday to complete the season sweep; let the big men work the paint, spread the offensive workload, and for role players to make big contributions. As the game got underway, Fordham was already checking off that first part, as Abdou Tsimbila scored the Rams’ first two buckets of the game.
As for Chuba Ohams, who scored a career high 21 points on Monday, UMass made sure that his time in the paint wasn’t as successful. Throughout the first half, Ohams was the victim of rampant Minutemen double teams. Ohams frequently saw the ball stripped out of his own hands before he was able to to make a shot. He frequently kicked the ball out to the arc, but out of coercion more than his own desire to make a play, leading to a few rushed three point attempts from some of Fordham’s own guards. Ohams’ limited playmaking seemed to trickle down to Fordham’s entire offense, as they committed 5 turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game.
Capitalizing off of these turnovers, the Minutemen were able to keep it close. Trent Buttrick held his own much better against Fordham’s bigs in this one, as he worked his way into the paint for an and-1 play, a common sight from UMass in the first half. Throughout the game, and especially in the first half, the major facilitator of these types of plays was graduate guard Rich Kelly. While Fordham and UMass traded some good shots initially, Kelly helped spark a 16-6 UMass run while Fordham went cold from deep. Kelly scored 7 points in this span. Kelly’s final shot of the half, a deep three with Abdou Tsimbila’s hand in his face, sent his team into halftime with a 44-31 lead, and himself with 10 points.
The beginning of the second half looked promising for Fordham, as Ohams began to push through double teams a bit more easily, knocking down Trent Buttrick in the restricted circle to lay it in. Ohams also kicked the ball out, this time on his own volition, giving guys like Josh Navarro some good looks from deep. With an 8-4 run to start off the second half, it looked like Fordham was once again beginning to click. While Kelly and Buttrick continued to be a problem for the Rams, Antrell Charlton and Zach Riley hit a few huge shots that took Fordham’s deficit down to six points around the eight minute mark.
Hitting five of their first eight shots from three, Fordham was able to cut the lead down to three points just before the under-8. Darius Quisenberry drove to the basket to make it a 62-62 game, but then Trent Buttrick hit a three to give UMass a lead that they would maintain until the end. The final minutes of the game followed a pretty steady ebb and flow, as Fordham would prod at the margin, and UMass would hold firm. Once the game came down to trading fouls, UMass had secured an 81-73 victory. Rich Kelly would lead all scorers with 15 points, while Chuba Ohams would put up 14 and 12 for his seventh consecutive double double.
With this loss, Fordham falls to 7-10 in conference play, and will wrap up their regular season on Saturday when they take on George Washington in the Bronx.