The next step: Fordham defeats Georgia Tech at Rose Hill
Next time you bump into Fordham Head Coach Tom Pecora – and you can often find him about the Rose Hill Campus – ask him about the direction of the Rams Men’s Basketball program; he will invariably tell you, “We’re building something, it’s a process.” On Thursday night at the Rose Hill Gym, Fordham laid another portion of the foundation with a 72-66 victory over Georgia Tech, their first triumph over an ACC opponent since 2005.
Fordham led by as many as 10 points in the second half before Georgia Tech trimmed the deficit to just two, 68-66 with 30 seconds remaining in the game. Trailing by a bucket, Georgia Tech’s Brandon Reed stormed down the right side of the lane but missed what would have been the equalizing layup and Chris Gaston ripped down his 17th rebound of the evening. Seconds later the junior toed the free throw line and buried a pair of foul shots that left the Yellow Jackets in the dust. The sequence was a microcosm of the Gaston’s evening who led all scorers with 23 points and collected his 11th double-double of the season.
After the game Pecora said, “[Anytime] you get an ACC team in here and you beat them it’s a marquee win for us.” It was Fordham’s first victory over Georgia Tech after the Yellow Jackets beat the Rams in the only two prior meetings, both came in 1990.
Georgia Tech was the team who burst out of the opening gate when they scored the first five points of the game before Gaston put the home team on the board with a layup. The Rambling Wreck would build their largest advantage of the game with 10:28 remaining in the first half after Brandon Reed nailed a corner three-pointer to put Tech on top 22-16. However, Fordham scored the final six points of the half and jogged into the locker room with a 32-31 edge.
Brandon Frazier, normally the team’s shooting guard, acted as the point guard for much of the evening and got the team off to a rousing beginning in the second half when he lobbed a 40-foot alley-oop to a soaring Kervin Bristol for the first basket after the break. Frazier scored 19 points, dished out six assists, and collected four rebounds. “I thought Brandon Frazier played a tremendous game,” said Tom Pecora, “He really did a wonderful job for us.”
Midway through the second half Jeff Short connected on his only three-point basket of the night spurring the game’s most intense moment. Off the made shot, Georgia Tech’s Jason Morris raced the length of the court and soared from the right wing to attempt a thunderous dunk. Ryan Canty, who played only six minutes, knocked Morris out of the air with an aggressive foul that led to some heated words between the teams under the basket.
That sequence whipped the Fordham faithful into a craze as the sellout crowd of 3,200 pumped energy into the 86 year-old venue. “They made a big impact on the game,” said Gaston, “They were basically like our sixth man on the court.”
Morris, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, fouled out of the game after committing a technical foul with 3:38 remaining.
Georgia Tech (7-6) has struggled on the offensive end of the floor this season; their 64 points per game are 10th best in the ACC. One of Tech’s bright spots offensively, however, has been the play of junior guard Glen Rice Jr. Emerging from a 19-point performance in a loss to Mercer on December 22, Rice was held scoreless by a stingy Fordham zone defense that limited the Yellow Jackets to 42% shooting.
Tom Pecora has stressed the building process, he has harped on the need to bring schools out of the major six conferences to Rose Hill, and he has pleaded with Fordham supporters to pack the Gym to rafters with 3,200 energized fans every time his team takes the court. All those things happened on Thursday night in the Bronx on the way to another building block moment the Rose Hill Gym.
Tune into our next Fordham Basketball broadcast on Tuesday when the Rams face off against Harvard at the Rose Hill Gym. The One on One pre-game report begins at 6:55 PM on 90.7 FM and WFUV.org.
Listen below to the post-game report with Andrew O'Connell and myself and Andrew's halftime interview with Thad Kornegay, CFL player for the BC Lions and part of the 2002 Fordham Patriot League Championship Team.