Again it was the Fordham defense that made it a game against Richmond up at the Rose Hill Gym Saturday afternoon. Similar to other outcomes it was the Rams inability to score that led to a 59-53 loss.
Fordham lost their fourth straight. It wasn’t their defense as they held Richmond, a team that can score, to 23 points in the first half. But as the conference schedule winds down, Fordham 7-15 overall, 1-9 A-10, can’t get both sides of the game on the same page.
Coach Jeff Neubauer, he is looking at a way to get this offense going. It has to be more than one that is open for the shot. It has to be making those baskets in a league that thrives on offense.
Regardless, this was your typical brand of Fordham basketball. Yes, defense is good, Fordham leads the A-10 in scoring defense and is ranked 16th in the NCAA.
“Defensive effort in the first half is never perfect, but it’s amazing that’s what it’s gotta be,” Neubauer said. “That’s who we are. Second half still good but needed to be amazing in the second half.”
He was referring, though. to that second half and inability to score. Antown Portley scored 12 points, Ty Perry added 11 and Jalen Cobb 10. They have been part of the mix.
But the Rams need more. If not, all that defense won’t be enough to escape a bottom seeding next month in the conference tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Portley, in his last four games after sustaining an early season injury to his leg, has scored 37 points. But the senior- guard can’t do this alone with a need for others to get the offense going.
Neubaurer, has always looked at Portley to take that open shot. Part of the Rams second half eight-point run, that gave them a 44-36 lead, was a run to the basket for Portley.
He also found an open and converted a 3-pointer beyond the arch. Again, if it wasn’t for the defense, the final outcome could have been wider.
“Good to have him back,” said Neubauer. “His minutes helped. He’s one of our better players. We are a better team when he makes the shots. We encourage in general that the ball moves.”
This is not to say that the Rams are overmatched. With their defense they have been in games. Last Saturday, at 8th ranked Dayton, it was a game before losing 70-56.
“We play as a team,” Neubauer said. “When you gave a guy with creativity it makes us better.”
Portley has that creativity.
But this Richmond team, striving to move up the standings in the conference, they have it all. They have deep scoring and that ability to stop a run at the right time
Jacob Gilyard scored 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Blake Francis added 18 points for the balanced Spiders offense.
The Spiders have won three straight, 17 of their last 18 meetings against Fordham, that included an elimination game at Barclays last March in the A-10 Tournament.
“Their style for us to hold them to 59, there’s a lot of good defense in there but not enough for us to win,” Neubauer said.
No, not enough Saturday to win a conference game. And with time running out the Rams are destined to finish last or next to last in the conference. The defense has been consistent the last seven games but that offense has to chime in.
If not, it will be the same story Tuesday night at Davidson.
“We have to find more baskets somewhere in our roster,” Neubauer said. “ More open looks. I’d like to see more guys produce more. We need everyone to play a little better.”
He wasn’t kidding. Because at Rose Hill this has become a defensive game and you can’t win games in this conference without the offense.
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