The Fordham Rams snapped a 9 game losing streak and claimed their first Atlantic 10 conference victory of the season. The Rams handily defeated the Saint Louis Billikens, 83-65, to get their first victory against the Bills since 2007. Fordham had played a very tough early part of the conference schedule and had a tough loss against Rhode Island on Jan. 28th, but were able to put all the pieces together for its first conference win. They shot 50 percent from the field, forced 19 turnovers, and made 30 out of 39 free throws today.
Saint Louis falls to 10-13 (2-8, A-10) as they got into foul trouble early in the game and lacked energy for a majority of the game. After claiming going a step forward with their overtime victory against Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday, they took two steps back against the Rams today. The Billikens still have numerous questions on both ends of the floor. A doctoral thesis could be written about the Bills struggles this season.
Fordham started the game on a 12-0 run as five different Rams scored during this run. The Rams also forced 4 turnovers in the opening five minutes of the game. The Billikens showed no energy and the Rams capitalize on it by cutting the passing lanes to force turnovers and moving the ball around the perimeter to get open 3-point looks. The Rams had great energy and carried that energy over for the rest of the game.
The Billikens were saved by their 3-point shooting in the first half. They went 6-10 in the half to get back into the game after not scoring the opening five minutes. Bronx native Achraf Yacoubou started the 3-point scoring fest for the Billikens. SLU’s first four field goals were 3-pointers to cut into the Rams lead. The Rams did not cover the man rolling on the pick-and-roll on the perimeter as SLU had numerous open looks from 3-pt range. Despite the 3-point scoring, the Bills were still down 22-18 with 7:26 left in the first half and had foul problems.
Five Billikens players picked up 2 or more fouls in the first half and they could not adjust to the referring in the game. This allowed the Rams to get into the game about halfway through the first half and get to the foul line often. Fordham aggressively attacked Saint Louis and got to the line where they convert their foul shots to build their lead back up to a 7 point advantage.
However, SLU got two quick buckets before the first half ended to cut the Rams lead back down to 4 points before halftime. Fordham held a 4 point lead and have lost these lead in previous A-10 games, but they did not do that against the Billikens.
After the Billikens tied the game at 33 early in the second half, the Rams took advantage of the Bills foul trouble and attacked the basket. Guard Mandell Thomas and forward Christian Sengfelder continually attacked against the young Billikens forwards and got to the foul line. Sengfelder showed great energy, going after rebound opportunites, and willed his team today to not to lose another game. He was a huge mismatch for the Billikens playing inside and outside; he made all of his 3-point attempts today. Sengfelder, nearly single-handedly, extended the Rams lead to 8 points.
Another advantage for the Rams was getting to the foul line. The Rams got into the bonus at the 14:11 mark in the second half and made all of their "one-and-one" opportunities at the line in the second half. The Rams went 30-39 from the foul line today while the Billikens were only 12-16 from the foul line. Fordham continually went after the Billikens and their aggression was a key reason they were able to build their second half lead.
SLU was able to cut the Fordham lead down to 6 at the 8:54 mark in the second half, after a traditional 3-point play by guard Davell Roby and a 3-pointer by center Austin Gillmann. However, the Rams responded with a huge 3-pointer by Sengfelder to get the lead back up to 9 points and then another bucket to extend the lead to double-digits. After that point, the Rams never looked back.
The Rams kept getting the Billikens to foul them to extend their lead up to 20 points in the waning minutes of the second half. SLU could not adjust and lacked energy after their tied the game early in the second half. The Billikens struggled and appeared to have a "hangover effect" after their overtime victory against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks on Tuesday.
Saint Louis will return home on Tuesday, Feb. 10th to take on the Dayton Flyers at 9:30 p.m. eastern time. Fordham will go to Richmond to play the Richmond Spiders on Wednesday, Feb. 11th at 7 p.m. eastern time.