Mandell Thomas leads the charge, but the Rams can’t overcome Xavier’s offensive balance.
Xavier’s home court advantage is well documented – they are 51-1 against Atlantic 10 opponents in the Cintas Center since 2007. That home court advantage was significant tonight as the Musketeers used a strong second half run, fueled by a near sellout crowd, to finish off Fordham. Mandell Thomas dropped a career high 23 points, but the Rams (6-19, 2-8 A10) fell to Xavier (14-9, 7-3 A10) in Cincinnati, 79-66.
The Muskies were led by freshman sensation Semaj Christon, who finished with a team high 19 points and 5 assists. His ability to drive to the rack was aided by a strong shooting night by his teammates, who finished 6/10 from behind the arc. Tyler Martin added 16 points and 7 boards, while three other players finished in double figures. One of those three, Dee Davis, finished with 4 assists and was clutch at the free throw line in the game’s final minutes, knocking down five of six at the charity stripe.
Thomas’ game for Fordham was impressive on both ends. In 31 minutes, the freshman guard scored 23 points on 8/15 shooting with five helpers while playing strong defense. Junior Branden Frazier started hot, scoring 8 early first half points including two long range three’s and he was relied upon to slow Christon in the second half. He would cool off offensively, finishing just 3/11 from the field, and missing his final 6 shots from the field. Ryan Canty’s return to the starting lineup was a good one, finishing with 8 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes. Jermaine Myers (7/9 at the free throw line) and Luka Zivkovic (3/4 from three) chipped in 9 points each in the losing effort.
Fordham played a near pristine first half, turning the ball over just three times, but would relinquish their first half lead with 7:24 to go in the first half (when they led 25-24). Xavier’s defense kicked in during the second half, creating 9 turnovers. Despite the turnovers, Fordham made it a six point game with under three minutes to go after whittling down a 15 point Xavier lead, but couldn’t come any closer to their Jesuit rival. The loss dropped Fordham to 0-13 in road contests this season.
Fordham now moves on to one of its biggest tests of the year. Conference newcomer Butler will journey to the Rose Hill Gym for a Saturday afternoon conference matchup motivated by a loss to Charlotte in the Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday. The game is already sold out, but if you don’t have a ticket you can tune your radio to 90.7 FM or stream it live on WFUV.org.
To listen to the One on One Postgame Report with myself and Chris Marasco as we analyze the game and speak with Fordham Associate Head Coach David Duke, click the plug in below or download it as a podcast on iTunes!