No. 16 Xavier beats Fordham 86-60
NEW YORK (AP)—Xavier looked really good for a half before Fordham came up with a sensational five minutes. Then the 16th-ranked Musketeers went back to being themselves for another easy win.
B.J. Raymond scored 18 points to lead six Xavier players in double figures in an 86-60 victory over the Rams on Sunday.
“All in all it was a good road win for our team. If there is such a thing as a hard-fought 26-point victory, this was it,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said. “We had to win twice. We got the big lead, took a punch and responded again.”
It was the fourth straight victory for Xavier (13-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) following its only losses to Duke and Butler.
The Musketeers shot a season-best 53.8 percent from the field (28-for-52) and finished with a 45-29 rebound advantage.
Derrick Brown scored 14 points, Jason Love 13, Terrell Holloway and Brad Redford had 11 each and C.J. Anderson added 10 for the Musketeers, who have beaten Fordham five straight times and are 17-3 all-time against the Rams and 15-1 since the 1995-96 season.
“We were composed. Our young guys have to learn these things can happen, especially on the road,” Brown said. “We hit them back with a pretty good punch in the mouth.”
Alberto Estwick had 20 points for Fordham (2-12, 0-2), which has lost five straight games.
Xavier led 45-30 at halftime but the Rams had their one hot streak of the game, hitting four 3-pointers in an 18-4 run that had them within 49-48 with 15:21 to play. Estwick hit three of the 3s and Mike Moore had the other in the run that forced Miller to call two timeouts before the first media timeout of the half.
The Musketeers extended their defense and the open 3-point shots were suddenly gone.
Xavier scored 10 straight points as part of a 23-3 run that gave the Musketeers a 72-51 lead with 7:05 left.
“It does happen on the road and I told them that and it was no time to worry,” Miller relayed about what he said to the team in the two timeouts. “We didn’t panic, kept our composure. We weren’t different. We were the same team and our defense started to come around. That was an excellent performance in a brief period of time by Fordham. It shows the 3-point shot can sure turn a game quickly.”
The biggest lead was 86-57 on a three-point play by Holloway with 10 seconds to go.
“I wish we could have stopped game after 25 minutes and said we won,” Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg said with a smile. “They have a great, great team and they showed you why. We brought the game back but we need some experience out there and have to execute and they showed you why. You make mistakes, they capitalize and it’s like a faucet running and you can’t stop it.”
Xavier’s best shooting game had been 53.5 percent (23-for-43) in an 81-74 victory over Auburn on Dec. 3.
Fordham was 3-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half and finished at 10-for-28, including the 4-for-4 start to the second half. The Rams entered the game 13th in the 14-team conference in 3-point shooting at 29.9 percent Xavier was fourth in 3-point percentage defense at 32. percent.
“They hit 10 3s and if we don’t have answers like we do that could have been enough to win a game,” Miller said.
Jio Fontan, the Atlantic 10’s leading freshman scorer with a 14.1 average finished with 10 points and 11 assists for the Rams but he was 3-for-14 from the field overall, including 0-for-7 in the second half when he committed five of his six turnovers.
Miller called Fontan as “talented as any freshman guard in the country.”
Whittenburg said Fontan was “trying to be aggressive.”
“But sometimes when the game gets in the balance you start taking quick shots and make a mistake and before you know it, you’ve gone from down one to down 10 and all of a sudden it’s 15,” Whittenburg said. “We’ll stay with it. We’re young and as lopsided as it looked, we had a chance with 15 minutes to go.”
The loss was the 46th straight to a ranked team for Fordham, which is 6-88 all-time against ranked teams. The last time the Rams beat a ranked team was Feb. 26, 1978, a 63-59 victory over No. 18 Georgetown.