By David Cordova
At this time, most teams in the Atlantic 10 are settling into rigorous grind of conference play, in which every game is a make or break, or better yet, do or die. If there was lesson that last night’s game between VCU and Fordham at the famed Rose Hill Gymnasium in the Bronx showed, it is that no opponent can be taken lightly, as even a team in last-place is always eager to knock off even the first-place team.
Prior to this game, VCU was 11-4 overall and 4-1 in conference play and Fordham was 7-11 overall and 1-4 in conference play. The makings of this game would be similar to a David vs. Goliath matchup as both teams suited up to play in this pivotal game.
Fordham 69, VCU 67
The beginning of the game started off very well for Fordham as they went on a tear with their three-point shooting and their ability to rebound well, as they led 11-2, with 15:28 to go in the first half.
Although VCU had much more quickness, due to their lack of size, Fordham used their toughness and their grit against their counterparts early on in the game. But then the VCU Rams started to come back into the game, cutting their deficit to 21-16, with 8:17 left after a layup by senior forward Ahmed Hamdy.
But Fordham’s superb play put them ahead by twelve at halftime, 32-20. In the first half, Fordham shot 52.2%, while VCU shot 36.4% from the field, however, both teams were very sloppy with the ball, as VCU had 12 turnovers and Fordham had eleven.
As the second half went on, both teams continued to turn over the ball plenty of times, but Fordham still managed to maintain a double-digit lead. VCU ended up cutting the deficit to ten, 39-29, with 16 minutes left, after a three-pointer by senior guard Doug Brooks. Moments later, they would inch even closer, cutting another deficit to six, 42-36, after at three-pointer by freshman guard Malik Crowfield with 11:57 to go.
Fordham started to unravel at this period as VCU started inching as close as possible. But they still managed to maintain the lead, as players such as graduate student Javontae Hawkins and sophomore guard Joseph Chartouny kept them ahead in the game with their balanced scoring.
VCU eventually got as close as one with a Brooks three-pointer, trailing 51-50, with 3:33 left. But once again, turnovers would cost them when it came to certain opportunities. But they then tied the game with 1:11 left on a Brooks three-pointer and the score was 53-53.
Chartouny would then hit a three-pointer of his own to give Fordham a lead, 56-53, with 58 seconds left. But then VCU junior forward Justin Tillman would make a three-point play with 41 seconds left to tie the game at 56-56.
Fordham junior Antwoine Anderson hit a layup with 20.6 seconds to go to give them a two-point lead at 58-56. But then with 14 seconds left, Mo Alie-Cox would be fouled and then hit two free throws to tie the game at 58-58, which would then send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, VCU came out on a mission, with consecutive baskets by Tillman and junior guard Jonathan Williams that would put them ahead 63-58, with 4:11 to go. But Fordham would not go down quietly, as a basket by Chartouny and two free throws by Hawkins would bring them to within one, 63-62, with 2:45 to go in the extra session.
Hawkins would make two more free throws to bring Fordham back ahead by one, 64-63, with 2:04 left. But a dunk by Tillman would bring VCU ahead by one, 65-64 with 1:18 left in the extra session. But then an Anderson free throw with 1:04 left would tie the score at 65-65.
Anderson would then score a clutch basket with 30.8 seconds left to give Fordham a 67-65 lead. But VCU would not die down easily as Tillman would muscle his way in for a layup and draw a foul with 14.7 seconds to go to tie the score at 67-67. But he would miss that free throw, which enabled Anderson to get the ball and hit the game-winning shot, which would give Fordham their first-ever win against VCU, as well as their second win in A-10 Conference play.
Hawkins led Fordham with 22 points and Anderson added 15 points, while Chartouny added 15 points and six assists. For VCU, Tillman led with 20 points and Brooks added 11 points in the loss.