Crimson Tide Tops Fordham Rams in High Scoring Encounter, 94-86

The Crimson Tide of Harvard, on the strength of excellent shooting, defeated Fordham, 94-86

~~Crimson Tide Tops Fordham Rams in High-Scoring Encounter, 94-86
Howard Goldin

Bronx NY—Despite most college students being far away from their classrooms during the winter holiday recess, the Rose Hill Gym on the Bronx campus of Fordham University was sold-out on Saturday afternoon for the encounter between the Fordham Rams (7-5) and the Crimson Tide of Harvard (11-1).

Harvard, not nationally ranked in the top 25 at the time of the game, is one of only 21 NCAA Division I basketball squads with fewer than two defeats. Harvard’s high level of accuracy from the floor, 56.8%, ensured it would not lose its second contest of the season in the Bronx.

Leads changed hands four times and the score was knotted five times in the tightly contested opening 11 minutes. With Fordham ahead, 25-23, at 8:47, the visitors began a scoring run that lasted five minutes and altered the eventual outcome of the game. Harvard scored 15 unanswered points that gave them a 13 point advantage, 38-25, with 3:50 remaining in the first half. The visitors lead, 43-32, at the half.

Although Harvard retained a double-digit lead during the first eight minutes of the second stanza, a late surge paced by outstanding freshman Jon Severe, cut the Fordham deficit to single figures for the final four minutes of the contest. Severe, the leading scorer in the Atlantic-10, only netted one of five shots in the first half but became a heat-seeking missile in the second as he sunk 10 of his 14 attempts from the floor to close with 29 points.

The Rams’ effort was high as they shot 58.8% in the second half, but according to Fordham head coach Tom Pecora, “Harvard did a wonderful job of weathering the storm when we got as close as six.”

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker expressed high praise for the Fordham scoring leader, “He’s as good a scorer as we’ve played all season; he’s a scorer, not just a shooter.”

Tom Pecora, although fully aware of the abilities of the young man he recruited, also pointed out how Severe’s inexperience affects his play, “He has to come out of the gate aggressively. I think he let defense affect him offensively. It’s a learning curve for freshmen no matter how good they are. He has to get old.”

Fordham’s Brandon Frazier led the scoring with 31. The senior now has scored 1,304 points, which moves him to 14th place in career points at the university.

Harvard had six scorers in double figures. Both coaches recognized how it positively affected the outcome. Pecora said, “They have great team balance.”

Amaker explained, “I was so pleased with the balance we showed, 24 assists, incredibly unselfish. That’s the key for our team, balance.”

The Rams head to the road for their next two contests. They will return to the Bronx on January 11 to host Richmond.

St. John’s women edges Aggies in final seconds

Aliyyah Handford moved through the middle of the court unimpeded to sink a layup her 11th basket of the game leading the St. John’s women to a win in the opening game of the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden…

St. John’s Edges Aggies at MSG 72-70, on a Tie-breaking Basket with Two Seconds Remaining

Howard Goldin

New York, NY—The opening game of the 8th annual Maggie Dixon Classic was a fascinating battle between the St. John’s Red Storm (6-4) and the Texas a& M Aggies (7-4) that was not decided until the final two seconds. With the game tied for the sixth time of the afternoon, sophomore Aliyyah Handford moved through the middle of the court unimpeded to sink a layup, her 11th basket of the game. Although the veteran coach of the Aggies a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, believed she walked with the basketball, he felt his team and not the referees deserved the blame. The courtly Southern gentleman remarked, “We let her split us like we did all game.”

The Red Storm and #24 ranked Aggies had never previously met. The setting, Madison Square Garden, and the occasion, the Maggie Dixon Classic, added the importance and the pressure on the teams.

The visitors led by five, 7-2, at 17:29, which turned out to be their largest lead of the contest. A tie at 20, at 8:39, the fourth of the game, was broken by seven unanswered points by the Red Storm. Handford’s final four points of the half gave her team a 33-30 advantage at the half. She scored more than half of her team’s points (18) during the half. The back and forth nature of the half was reflected by the 12 lead changes and the four ties.

The second half was quite competitive, but the Red Storm never fell behind. The Aggies came as close as one point behind but did not know the score until 42 seconds were left to play. After the Johnnies edged ahead, the contest was tied for the six and final time with 29 seconds on the clock. Handford’s unimpeded basket clinched the victory with two ticks left on the clock.

The heroine led all scorers with 27 points. She remarked after the contest concluded, “I just came out and played hard and my teammates helped me a lot just getting up the floor.”

Blair was very critical of his team’s play, “We got outplayed the last 35 minutes of the ball game…The mistakes we’re making against the zone defense-it’s just poor decisions…They [St. John’s] shot 61% in the second half.”

Red Storm coach John Tartamella discussed answers the game gave him regarding questions he had regarding his team, “The way we were able to stay ahead or come back, finish the game, answer their runs, convert at the end of the game from the free throw line.”

Yankees salvage finale of tough series in Toronto

By Anthony Locicero – New York Sports Examiner Reporter – @anthonylocic on Twitter

The New York Yankees entered their series with the Toronto Blue Jays with a chance to make up ground in the American League East. A sweep by the Bombers would dethrone the Blue Jays from the top of the standings. While Toronto has been the better club this season, it was swept by the Yankees June 17-19 in the Bronx.

The Jays followed that up with a 14-9 win in the opener against the Cincinnati Reds, before dropping the next two. The Yankees kept the momentum going, knocking off the Baltimore Orioles, 5-3, in the opener of that series, but dropped the next two by a combined score of 14-1.

The trip to Toronto wasn’t pleasant for the Bombers, who managed to only take one from the Blue Jays – the third and final game.


GAME 1 – Monday, June 23rd

I’m willing to believe – for the time being – this was just a hiccup for Chase Whitley, who was tagged for 11 hits and eight earned runs in just 3.1 innings.

(The rookie right-hander threw five innings of five-hit, two-run ball in his previous outing, which was against Toronto.)

That awful start put his club in a hole – down 7-0 after two innings – it could not climb out of. New York continued to struggle to hit with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-8 on the night.

GAME 2 – Tuesday, June 24th

This one was extremely painful to watch. It was the kind of game where you turn the TV off in frustration if you’re a Yankee fan. (“They’re gonna lose,” my fiancée, who I was watching the game with, said in the middle of the ninth after the Yankees stranded runners in the top half of the inning.)

Even first baseman Mark Teixeira said it was an “ugly game to watch.”

David Phelps regressed – he gave up eight hits and six earned runs over five innings, though he did strike out seven.

New York scored some runs from some unlikely sources – home runs by Brian Roberts (his third of the season) and Derek Jeter (his second).

So, along with a RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a throwing error that allowed the Yankee center fielder to score, New York went from down 6-0 to tied 6-6 only to lose the game on a Jose Reyes double and a throwing error by Yangervis Solarte on a Melky Cabrera bunt.

The Yankees did pretty well against Toronto starter Mark Buehrle, who has reinvented himself this season.  The Bombers touched the veteran up for eight hits and four earned runs.

GAME 3 – Wednesday, June 25th

New York snapped its four-game losing streak, winning 5-3, despite going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees had just enough offense and the bullpen turned in a strong performance to seal the deal.

Hiroki Kuroda (6.1 IP, 8H, 3ER) pitched a gritty game. Outside of Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees starters average less than six innings per start. So, Kuroda had to really grind, as he threw 102 pitches.

“I thought he threw the ball pretty good,” said Yankee manager Joe Girardi.

Reliever Matt Thornton recorded a very important seventh inning out. The veteran came on with two outs and runners on first and second. The Jays executed a double steal with slugger Adam Lind at the plate. But Thornton got Lind to ground out to end the threat.

Girardi called on closer David Robertson, who hadn’t pitched in a week, for a five-out save, which he recorded successfully with just 22 pitches. It was Robertson’s 18th save of the season, as he struck out three and didn’t allow a hit or run.

“When I was out there, I wasn’t thinking about anything but just… let’s attack. Let’s get outs … I made enough quality pitches to get myself out of it,” he said.


Mark Teixeira is showing his power stroke, with two long balls this series. He now has 14 on the year. His three RBI upped his season total to 39. Those two homers were the only hits of the series, however. Tex has four home runs and 12 RBI in his last 13 games.

Jacoby Ellsbury (5-for-12) had two RBI this series, giving him 33 for the year.

The bullpen had a terrific series: 9.1 innings, six hits, one unearned run.

Over his last eight games, Robertson has a 0.00 ERA, has converted all six of his save chances while allowing just three hits in 8.1 innings. He’s walked just two in that span while fanning 15. The closer is actually striking out more batters per nine innings than strikeout machine Dellin Betances.

The Yankees are 23-12 (.657 win percentage) in games decided by two runs or less.

Hiroki Kuroda is now 5-5 with a 4.23 earned run average. He’s 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA this month.

New York is still in third place, with a 40-37 record. It sits 2.5 games out of first place and a half game out of second.

UP NEXT is a three-game set with rival Boston (35-43, fourth place).

Mets reserve Bobby Abreu bids adieu

Mets reserve Bobby Abreu bids adieu

By Steven Simineri

The afternoon following Derek Jeter’s magical Bronx goodbye, one of his countless former teammates announced his plans to also ride into the sunset at seasons end. In an understated press conference that stood in stark contrast to the pomp and circumstance of Jeter’s retirement tour, 40-year-old Mets reserve outfielder Bobby Abreu said that Sunday’s season finale against his first team, the Houston Astros, would be his last.

“I feel happy with my career,” said Abreu, who originally signed with Houston as a 16-year old back in 1990. “I’m blessed. We all create goals in our lives. And to me, as a baseball player, I created all my goals and I met all those goals.”

Mets manager Terry Collins, who served as Abreu’s first Major League manager when he debuted with the Astros in 1996, penciled him into the lineup one last time Sunday afternoon and Abreu bid goodbye to the big leagues with a fifth-inning single that sparked the decisive rally, ending perhaps one of the more underappreciated careers in recent memory.

“He was probably a little bit underappreciated. But when it’s all said and done, I think the numbers are going to speak up for themselves,” Collins, said while seated beside Abreu for his announcement on Friday.

Abreu is certainly no Hall of Famer, but he’s a candidate for the Hall of Very Good. He ranks in the top 100 in baseball history in the following: On-base percentage (78th), runs (79th), doubles (21st), RBI (87th), walks (20th), steals (73rd), total bases (85th), extra-base hits (58th) and times on base (46th). He’s 103rd in hits, too.

Of the 318 Venezuelan-born players to have appeared in the big leagues and only Omar Vizquel (2,877) and Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (2,677) have more career hits than his 2,470. His 288 home runs rank fourth and his 1,363 RBIs are good for third. Ever a patient hitter, his career on-base percentage is a stellar .395 and throughout his career, he averaged 4.28 pitches per plate appearance while the league average was 3.77.

He won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger and was baseball’s active leader in doubles and walks. His 60 career Wins Above Replacement rank 119th in history, ahead of guys such as Vladimir Guerrero, Ichiro Suzuki, and Sammy Sosa. He is also one of only four players in major league history with 200 homers, 1,200 walks, and 400 steals. The others are Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, and Joe Morgan.

Furthermore, Abreu is one of just five players to leave the game with a .395 OBP, 400 stolen bases, 500 doubles and 2,400 hits. The other four are Bonds, Henderson, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. In the long history of baseball, there have only been eight seasons in which a player recorded 40+2B, 20+HRs, 100+BB and 20+ SB. Abreu owns four of those seasons. Also, his twelve seasons of 20+2B, 10+HR, and 20+SB is more than anybody to play the game. His former teammate Jimmy Rollins just garnered his eleventh such season, which tied Bonds for the second most all-time.

In 1997 the Astros could only protect 15 players when Major League Baseball held an expansion

draft for the Diamondbacks and the Devil Rays. The choice came down to Abreu or Richard Hidalgo, another product of the Venezuelan pipeline. The team protected Hidalgo and Tampa took Abreu in the draft, and then flipped him to the Phillies for shortstop Kevin Stocker. After emerging as a star with the Phillies in the early 2000s, he went on to stints with the Yankees, Angels, and Dodgers before taking a year off in 2013.

In an attempt to make a return to the big leagues he returned to winter ball in his native Venezuela, where he caught the attention of former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens. He eventually went to spring training with the Phillies, but after getting cut the veteran outfielder signed a minor league deal with the Mets in March and arrived at Triple-A Las Vegas. There, Abreu served as a mentor for some of the Mets young players, a role he fully embraced during his short stint in Flushing.

“These young guys are special,” Abreu said over the weekend. “The New York Mets have a big future. Even at 40 years old, they made me feel young.”

Collins and the Mets have credited Abreu with mentoring several of their young Latin players, in particular, center fielder Juan Lagares and infielder Wilmer Flores. Abreu was in the majors from April 22 until Aug. 4 this season. The Mets released him six days later, but he re-signed with the club, returned to the 51s and general manager Sandy Alderson rewarded him with a second call-up as rosters expanded, in part because he believed Abreu’s plate approach set a strong example for his teammates.

Abreu’s playing days actually are not completely over. He said he plans to play a handful of games in winter ball in his native Venezuela for fans in his home country before hanging up his cleats for good. After that, he will surely have a hitting-coach job awaiting him somewhere, but not before he settles several business ventures outside the game.

During his short stay in Queens, he was used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter, but he was just thankful for the opportunity to complete his comeback and go out on his own terms — wearing a big league uniform.

“To retire with a uniform, I think this is something very important,” Abreu said following Sunday’s 8-3 victory. “When you play the game and you have a long career, you want to just do it on the field.”


Fordham women hoopsters win 7th straight

Fordham University women’s basketball team won their 7th straight game over Illinois State. Their 8-2 start to the season was last accomplished in 1988-89.

Fordham U. Women Hoopsters Win 7th Straight

Howard Goldin

Bronx, NY—On Sunday afternoon at the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx, the Fordham Rams women’s basketball team (8-2) won its seventh straight contest with a completely one-sided victory over the Illinois State Redbirds (1-6). The 8-2 season start was last reached by the Rams in the 1988-89 season.

The game began competitively with the visitors leading 4-3 at 17:49. Whether the 1,000 mile trip east during bad weather or the Fordham defense was most responsible for the shutdown of the Redbirds cannot be totally discerned, but the Redbirds’ offense was stopped at that point. The Rams scored the next 28 points to take a 31-4 advantage. The half concluded with the Rams leading, 34-6.

The Redbirds missed their final 21 shots from the floor during the first half. The first half statistics exhibited a complete lack of competition between the two squads. Fordham outscored Illinois State 20-2 in the paint; the Redbirds did not score any points off turnovers, after offensive rebounds, and on fast breaks, while the Rams scored 13, 9 and 4 respectively. The Redbirds shot a rare and abysmal 7.7% (2 for 26) from the floor.

Fordham’s classy and experienced, 28 years as a college coach, head coach Stephanie Gaitley had no desire to embarrass or humiliate college student-athletes or their institution by running up the score in the second half needlessly. To avoid this situation from happening she sat her starters and gave her reserves additional time on the court. All seven non-injured reserves played.

Fordham’s starting five were on the court for a total of 83 minutes in the first half, but only for 56 minutes in the second. Fordham reserves saw action for 17 minutes in the opening period, but 44 in the second half. Thus, then there was no large differential in stats during the second half including the score.

The visitors outscored the Rams by one point, 26-25, to put the final score of the Rams victory to 57-32.

The two teams met on Sunday for the first time. They had one common opponent this season, #12 ranked Penn State. Although both lost to Penn State, the Redbirds lost by 12 and the Rams by 17. Obviously, the result of a game is determined by how two teams match-up against one another at a specific time.

The Redbirds remain on the East Coast for a game at Princeton before returning home. The Rams travel to the West Bronx on November 21 to face the Manhattan Jaspers in the next Battle of the Bronx.

Former NYC PSAL Player of the Year Halil Kanacevic Voted A-10 Tournament MVP

Former NYC PSAL Player of the Year Halil Kanacevic Voted A-10 Tournament MVP

Howard Goldin

Brooklyn, NY—The St. Joseph’s Hawks (24-9) defeated the VCU Rams (26-8), 65-61, in a very competitive final in front of 8.886 fans at the Barclays Center in which the score had been knotted eight times. Thus, the Hawks became an automatic entry into the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks are returning to the national tournament for the first time since 2008.

Three members of each of the two finalists were voted onto the A-10 All-Tournament Team, but only one, Halil Kanacevic of the Hawks, was awarded MVP honors.

The 6-8 senior was born in Staten Island, not that far from the Barclays Center. He attended Curtiss High School in his native borough. His achievements during his senior year made it unforgettable for him. He averaged a double-double, 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. He contributed mightily to compiling a school mark of 28 wins and the PSAL title. His efforts earned him the Staten Island PSAL, Class A Player of the Year.

As a freshman at Hofstra, the New Yorker started seven of his 33 game appearances. He averaged 8.6 points and 7.6 rebounds. His performances resulted in his being named to the CAA All-Rookie Team.

Kanacevic transferred to St. Joseph’s after the season ended and was required to sit out the 2010-11 season.

He played in all 34 games in his first season with the Hawks and accomplished eight double-doubles. In the following year, Kanacevic missed several games due to the death of a favorite uncle in Europe and several others because of a regrettable incident of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Kanacevic changed his jersey # from 21 to 45 to honor his uncle who died at the age of 45 and displayed his versatility as a senior by leading the Hawks in rebounds (8.7) and assists (4.4) while averaging double figures in points (10.4).

He was especially effective in the Atlantic-10 Championship Tournament this past weekend. In the semi-final against St. Bonaventure, Kanacevic scored 26 points and grabbed 17 boards. The outspoken forward downgraded the importance of those numbers, “I had a good scoring game and rebounding today, numbers-wise, but I really don’t care about it. I really never base my game on numbers. It’s my floor game for the team.”

He played an all-around superior game in the final, 11 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocked shots. Opposing Coach Shaka Smart of VCU recognized his value to his team, “He’s very, very versatile. He’s really rebounding at a high level. He did a nice job finding guys. The best thing about him is making passes.”

On the previous day, Coach Martelli of the Hawks said of the senior, “On a team full of great teammates, he’s the best teammate.” He also praised his ability to feed his teammates, “Halil is the best low-post passer and he’s the best low-post distributor.” These are reasons why Martelli has called him the “most indispensable player” on the team.

His college totals are; 1,139 points, 1,021 rebounds, 401b assists and 213 blocks. He also completed his degree requirements in December.


Historic win for Fordham Rams

The Fordham Rams won a historic game at Rose Hill Monday. The men’s team won a historic 600th basketball game at the Rose Hill Gym over Loyola University and raised their historic record on their home court to 600-335.

Historic Win for Fordham Rams

Howard Goldin

Bronx, NY—The Fordham Rams (7-4) won their 600th basketball game at the Rose Hill Gym on Monday afternoon, 83-69 over the Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers (5-7). The victory raised the record of the Rams at their historic home court to 600-335.  The Rams are the 12th college team to reach that mark at home. The historic home of the Rams hosted its first basketball game on January 16, 1925. It is the oldest NCAA Division I arena still in use.

The meeting between the two Jesuit institutions of higher learning was only their second. Two years ago, the Ramblers defeated the Rams, 64-50.

The game was extremely competitive during most of the first half. A layup by Bryan Smith of Fordham knotted the score for the sixth time at 8:19. The Ramblers then scored eight unanswered points to take a 25-17 lead. With only 1:56 remaining in the half, the Ramblers achieved their onldouble-digitit advantage of the contest, 36-25. The visitors led, 38-29, at the conclusion of the first half.

The advantage was quickly erased in the second half as the Rams began the period with a 12-2 scoring run, which again gave them the lead, 41-40, at 16:10. The game remained close, but the Rams high number of visits to the charity stripe and their accuracy from there during the final 1:45 of the contest gave them an 83-69 win. The Rams outscored the visitors 17-7 in those final two minutes. The last 14 points of the output of the Rams were netted at the free throw line.

Two strengths of the Rams were most responsible for the victory. Thy netted 21 of 23 attempts from the charity stripe, 20 of those points in the second half, contrasted with only 1 for 2 from the Ramblers.

Fordham handled the basketball with extreme care, committing a season low of six turnovers.  The Rams scored 18 points from Loyola miscues contrasted with only 6 Loyola points scored after Fordham errors.

Fordham also greatly improved its accuracy from the floor after the first half. The Rams shot 57.7 % in the second half after hitting only 35.3% of its shots in the opening half. Its skill from beyond the arc also improved from 26.7% to 50%. Fordham Coach Tom Precora explained the reason for the difference, “When we drove we had much better success.”

The contributors to the Fordham victory were many. Coach Pecora praised his starting forwards, Travion Leonard and Ryan Rhoomes, “Tre and Rhoomes played well together.” Leonard scored 7, but grabbed 9 boards, blocked two shots and stole the ball twice. Rhoomes scored 14 as well as hauling down 6 rebounds and making 3 steals. As the numbers tell, they were as effective defensively as on the offense.

Freshman Jon Severe was the game’s high scorer with 23 points, 20 of them in the important second half. Junior Bryan Smith netted 17 and senior Branden Frazier scored 16.

Coach Pecora spoke at length of the importance of winning at home, “The first step in rebuilding is you have to be good at home regardless of who you play. We fear nobody in this gym.”

He also discussed the consistency of the team, “We haven’t lost two in a row. Having one game losing streaks isn’t bad.”

The Rams will remain at home during Christmas week, hosting Harvard on the afternoon of December 28.

Fordham’s Women Hoopsters Win 11th Straight

~~Fordham’s Women Hoopsters Win 11th Straight

Howard Goldin

Bronx, NY—The second phase of the current college basketball has recently begun, the schedule of conference games. The start of each season is the playing of games by teams that rarely face one another. Although the results of these contests count toward the won/lost record for the season, it is the conference results that qualify teams for the concluding phase, the post-season tournaments.

As the snow was falling, the wind increasing and the temperature plummeting in the Bronx on Thursday night, the Fordham Rams (12-2, 1-0) and St. Louis Billikens ( 5-9, 0-1) women’s teams were preparing to play their first Atlantic-10 conference game of the 2013-14 season at the Rose Hill Gym on Fordham’s Bronx campus.

After scoring six straight points, Fordham led, 13-4, after five minutes of play. At the mid-point of the half, Fordham amassed its first double-figure advantage, 22-11. Seven unanswered points by the Billikens cut the deficit to a basket, 30-28, at 2:17. The Rams responded by scoring the next 10 points and led at the half by 40-28. Erin Rooney, Fordham’s star player and captain for the three years she has been on the team, paced the club with 11 points and seven boards.

Fordham’s head coach, Stephanie Gaitley, gave her view of the first half and her intentions for the second, “It’s a game of runs. We have to change some things.”

The defense of the Rams improved in the second half. Although their shooting from the floor fell off from its 52% of the opening stanza, their lead increased as the game went on. A three by freshman Hannah Missry at 6:20 pushed the Fordham advantage to above 20, 63-41. The Rams led by as high as 27 and won by a score of 74-52.

Rooney achieved her fifth double-double of the year with 21 points and 12 rebounds. She explained her increased scoring this season, “I try to be more aggressive.”

The Christ Church, New Zealand native had the rare experience of having her mother and father in the crowd watching her perform, “It’s really special to have them here. They haven’t seen me play in person for five years except for our trip [Fordham team’s visit to New Zealand in the summer of 2013].”

The victory became an important part of team history. The 11th consecutive win and 12-2 mark to start the season are team records. The Rams are now undefeated in their first eight home games.

The Rams next play a road game at UMass on January 5 and return to the Bronx to host Duquesne on the evening of January 8.

Fordham Rams Victorious at Fordham Holiday Classic

The Fordham Rams women’s hoopsters won the two-day Fordham Holiday Classic tournament with a victory over Harvard in the final.

~~Fordham Rams Victorious at Fordham Holiday Classic

Howard Goldin

Bronx, NY—Aficionados of college women’s basketball in the Bronx had an opportunity to attend two doubleheaders shortly before the close of 2013 as the 7th annual Fordham Holiday Classic was held on the afternoon of December 29 and December 30 at the Rose Hill Gym on the Bronx campus of Fordham University. As in the previous six years, the invitees included teams from a wide area of the nation and from several conferences.

In the opening contest on Sunday afternoon, the Fordham Rams easily triumphed over the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) Spartans, 79-48. The Rams began aggressively by scoring the first eight points. At 11:35, Fordham reached its first double-digit lead of the contest, 15-5. They increased their lead at the half to 39-20.

Mid-way through the second half, Fordham increased its advantage to an insurmountable 67-34. Fordham’s experienced and classy coach, Stephanie Gaitley, gave all the reserves on its bench an opportunity to see action and to ensure that the visiting team from the South was not treated to an even more embarrassing defeat.

Erin Rooney paced the Rams, nearly achieving a triple-double with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in only 27 minutes on the court.

The closing game of day #1 was the first meeting between the Harvard Crimson and the Tulsa Hurricanes. The two teams battled competitively on a court foreign to both. Control of the boards, 44 rebounds to 32, and six additional points from the charity stripe gave the 61-57 victory to Harvard.

The consolation contest between Tulsa and UNCG opened the second day of the tourney. The game was hard fought and evenly played by two teams that never previously faced one another. Tulsa led throughout most of the first half, but the Spartans took a 27-26 lead with four minutes left in the half. The Hurricanes followed with 10 unanswered points and led at the half, 36-32.

After knotting the score at 38 early in the second half, the Spartans remained behind for the remainder of the game. They cut the Tulsa advantage to a single point on four occasions, but could not again equal the Tulsa point total. The Hurricanes won, 76-71.

The title contest of the two-day tourney was between Fordham and Harvard. Interestingly, the two men’s teams of the same universities met in the same Bronx venue two nights earlier. The Rams’ ability from beyond the arc furnished them an advantage during the opening half. Five of Fordham’s first six baskets were from downtown and allowed the Rams to lead, 20-12 at 7:47.  A basket and a free throw by Emily Tapio brought Fordham its first double-figure advantage of the game, 25-14, at 5:56.

Fordham never lost the double-figure advantage again during the contest. During the final two minutes of the game, Fordham, in the person of Abigail Corning, outscored the Crimson, 6-1, to raise its final score lead to a game-high 20 points, 64-44. The win was the 10th straight for the Rams, equaling a mark last accomplished in the 1978-79 season. They are undefeated at home, 7-0.

Corning had an impressive game for the Rams, grabbing 12 boards, scoring 9 and dishing 6 assists. Rooney led all scorers in the contest with 19.

Corning and Rooney were named to the All-Tournament team along with Janaé Stevenson of UNCG, Mariah Turner of Tulsa and Temi Fagbenle of Harvard.

The women of Fordham next see action on the evening of January 2 in the Bronx versus Saint Louis. It will be Fordham’s first Atlantic-10 conference game of the season.

NCAA Tournament for UConn at the Garden and nothing different from the past

NCAA Tournament for UConn at the Garden and nothing different from the past

By Rich Mancuso

What can be expected after a 53-year hiatus of a NCAA Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden is UConn doing what they always do on the Garden floor, and that is winning a big game? The Huskies had their fans and DeAndre Daniels made sure that his team would head to the Eastern Regional final Sunday.

Daniels scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half. That was a typical UConn ending on the Garden court as he led the seventh-ranked Huskies to an 81-76 victory over third seed Iowa State University.

He would hit his first six points at halftime. That was so familiar to typical Big East wins for the Huskies at the Garden. Now in the ACC, playing at the Garden is not a regular stint on the schedule. Though the Huskies took two games at the Garden in late November defeating Boston College and # 22 Indiana in the 2K Sports Classic.

As it always was in the past, Daniels sounded like all the others who had an impact on the Garden floor.

“Well, I just wanted to stay aggressive and just start of the second half just keep staying aggressive,” he said  “My teammates were talking to me, and it would never have been possible if it wasn’t for my teammates looking for me, and coaching staff getting me the ball in the right positions.”

He added, “And I was able to knock down my shots tonight.”

The star of the NCAA Tournament run for the Huskies, Shabazz Napier with 19 points, four of six from three-point range, concurred.”He wanted to make a big impact and I just told him like, ‘Just calm down.’  The game’s going to come to you.”

The 15,000 plus at the Garden knew who the star would be Friday night. Napier, the senior guard has led the Huskies in scoring all season, but Daniels is a good compliment.

“DeAndre’s a scorer and once you feel that you have that confidence the next shot’s going to go in,” added Napier. “We kept feeding him and he got super hot. We had to cool his hand down and we just kept going. But he’s a great scorer for us.”

Napier hopes to return to the Final Four next weekend in Arlington Texas. As a freshman, he helped lead the Huskies to their last national title, a win over Butler in Houston Texas.

Now UConn looks to win their tenth championship at the Garden Sunday and advances to another Final Four if they beat fourth seed Michigan State Sunday afternoon. If that happens, it will be another reason why the Garden is so much their home court.

What makes this one sweeter, UConn is making a run at the National Championship in New York, a year after sitting out the big dance because of NCAA academic sanctions.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso