By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor
Coach Jeff Neubauer has seen his Fordham Rams win tight games up at Rose Hill this season including an overtime win over Atlantic 10 Conference opponent VCU. Overall it has been a successful home season and Wednesday night the home finale had the same dramatics.
But this time a freshman with limited playing time hit four straight three-point plays for the Rams. Those 12 points had an impact however George Washington got the game winning points at the line with .9 seconds to play and that was the difference in a 67-66 win.
This seemed to be a win for Fordham in their home finale. One more game Saturday at La Salle will determine who the first opponent will be in the A-10 Tournament and with a 7-10 record in the conference, 13-17 overall, Fordham is assured to get a bye in the first round.
Neubauer discounted any concern about giving up a 16 point lead in the second half and that may be attributed to his regular core of starters putting in those minutes down the stretch. It also is attributed to a GW team that made the corner shots and a Fordham team that can’t stop that defense.
“Type of game that we all expect when we get here in March and I told the team GW made one more play than you did,” Neubauer said.”
March Madness it was in the home finale. And if Fordham wants to make an impact in their upcoming tournament the defense has to adjust as they could not stop the shot or prevent the foul that resulted in a tough loss.
Christian Sengfelder fouled Tyler Cavanaugh on the 3-point attempt with a fraction of seconds remaining and those three foul shots became the game winner as Fordham could not get a miracle and final shot. Tough loss, yes it was.
“Out defense is built to take away the exact pass,” said Neubauer. Except this final play caused a foul and the sixth straight for GW over Fordham in the conference. Fordham will need to adjust the defense if they look to make that impact in their first round conference championship game.
“Not a concern,’ Neubauer said about the defense giving up a comfortable lead. “Pleased about our defense in first half. The second half was not as good. We also anticipated them playing good. Give GW a lot of credit. Their guys stuck with it.”
He said on the road GW has an experienced group. But Neubauer was also aware that it is the month of March and by now the Rams should have that game experience to keep a comfortable lead, and they did not pass or shoot the ball well in the second half.
However, the freshman Cavit Havsa, a recruit from Istanbul Turkey got his first taste of March Madness. He had been in 16 games and shot 14-30 from the field with a previous best 10-points in a Fordham win at Duquesne, and with 11 seconds to play hit a three to put Fordham up 66-64.
The freshman responded, and as Neubauer said “He made the big shots that gave us a chance.” That performance may earn Havsa more time in the season finale and if the three point shot comes with points it could lead to time in the conference tournament.
But that is all in the cards. Fordham needs to go out on a winning note Saturday and take it one game at a time. March Madness is now official and anything is possible.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso