It was Fordham’s first victory over St. John’s in nearly five years.
Fordham, which hasn’t had a winning record since 2010-2011, coasted to victory with big contributions from South Jamaica native Ryan Rhoomes and Brooklyn’s Jon Severe.
Rhoomes, who graduated from Bayside’s Cardozo High School, scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Severe, who attended Christ the King in Middle Village, pitched in 14 points.
The upperclassmen helped lead Fordham to victory again Saturday afternoon at home against Central Connecticut State, winning 86-54. The Rams improved to 6-1 on the season.
Fordham used its pressure defense to rout the Blue Devils, who remain winless this season. The Rams forced 26 turnovers, leading to 34 of its 86 points.
First-year head coach Jeff Neubauer said despite a late defensive lapse in the game, the Rams played well.
“For most of the game, our defense was very solid,” Neubauer said. “There were portions of the game that this was our best defense. The final 15 minutes of the first half were terrific and probably the first eight minutes of the second half, our guys really defended.”
Six Rams scored in double figures, including 10 points and four rebounds from Rhoomes and 12 points from senior guard Mendell Thomas. Severe added nine points to the mix.
The blowout also allowed Maspeth native Thomas Sanchez, a walk-on sophomore guard, to play his first minutes of the season.
The real focus of the game was the Rams’ tight defense. Fordham has forced 19 turnovers per game so far, good for fifth in the NCAA’s Division I rankings. They’re also ninth in steals at 10.3 per game, and 15th overall in total steals. Against Central Connecticut State, Fordham stole the ball 12 times.
That’s the same number of steals they had against St. John’s on December 2.
“With a team that has struggled in the past, it is important to feel some success,” Neubauer said. “Our guys are playing well. They understand the effort that is needed to win. They understand that we’ve got to get better.”
Fordham’s hot start has fueled a sense of pride on campus. Neubauer said in order for Fordham to be recognized by fans in the greater New York City area, it has to win Atlantic-10 games against conference opponents.
“I definitely have felt a sense of pride that has emerged here in the last week. Obviously when you play local teams and you are able to win games, it creates that sense of pride. I think that’s something our players are proud of,” Neubauer said. “With that being said, we’re preparing for our Atlantic-10 schedule. We need to win Atlantic-10 games, which has been a real struggle for Fordham in recent history.”
Rhoomes and Severe have been part of the equation for Fordham’s success so far. The senior from South Jamaica has averaged 15.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game this season. Severe, a junior guard, has put up 9.1 points and 2.3 steals a game.
With a signature victory over the Red Storm in their pockets, the Rams look forward to continuing their winning streak against LIU Brooklyn on December 8.
First-year St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin reportedly had some strong words for the Fordham coach when they shook hands after the game.
When asked what Mullin said at the handshake, Neubauer responded, “I think you should ask Chris Mullin that.”