Fordham defeated Long Island University 89-84 in a wild overtime contest at Rose Hill Gym on Tuesday.
Mandell Thomas led the way for the Rams with 28 points and Jon Severe added 26.
It’s the seventh win in a row for the Rams and the first one that wasn’t decided by more than 15 points.
“Not every game is going to go by our script,” said first-year Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer. “It’s going to require some toughness, some grit. Our guys did do some winning things tonight and as I mentioned to them in the locker room the most important skill you can have in life is simply knowing how to win.”
The Rams squandered a five-point lead in the final minute of regulation as Jerome Frink hit an uncontested three-pointer to tie the score at 72-72 with 20 seconds left.
With Fordham again leading by three in the final seconds of overtime, Neubauer decided not to foul.
This time, Jerome Frink air balled a three.
“In general, we’re not going to foul,” Neubauer said. “That three at the end of regulation is my fault. I had us in the wrong defense one hundred percent. I take all the blame and credit or whatever you want to call it. The one at the end of overtime was much more contested. We had a guy right there on him so that’s the shot we want him taking.”
Fordham jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but the Blackbirds (4-3) rallied to take a 31-22 advantage into halftime.
Thomas was held to six points in the first two quarters, but scored 17 after the break.
“Our mentality in the second half was to get to the basket,” Thomas said. “I don’t think my shots were falling in the first half so I flat out got to the basket where I create more plays and Jon did the same.”
Jerome Frink led the Blackbirds with 30 points, by credited his backcourt for making his life easier.
“I just let my guards work for me,” Frink said. “They did all the work. They put me in the right spots so all I had to do is just finish.”
Frink air balled a potential game-tying three with seconds remaining in overtime.
“Taking a good look at it, I knew it was going to be an air ball, so I just tried to get the rebound, but they boxed me out,” Frink said.
Fordham is now 7-1 after a 9-21 campaign under Tom Pecora last season. The last time the Rams had a winning streak of at least seven was during the 1990-91 season when Neubauer was the point guard at La Salle University.
“I don’t think of it like that,” Neubauer said. “The way I think of it is our guys are doing things that we’re asking them to do and they’re learning along the way. These are the challenges that we have to figure out and the fact that tonight’s game was close is going to be great for us as we go into the future.”