After Fordham lost to Virginia Commonwealth University on Thursday night, head coach Tom Pecora summed up his team's plight in just a few words.
"Teams that win find ways to win," he said. "Teams that lose know how to lose."
On Saturday against La Salle, in front of 3,017 at the Rose Hill Gym, Fordham found another way to lose.
With the game tied at 62, the Explorers had the ball underneath the basket with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. It was then that the unthinkable happened.
On the inbounds play, La Salle's D.J. Peterson found a cutting Tyreek Duren, whose layup went in as time expired, stunning everyone and handing the Rams a 64-62 loss, their sixth straight.
Just moments earlier, the game appeared to be headed into overtime.
Fordham's Branden Frazier, who played well all afternoon, blocked a shot in the paint as the buzzer sounded to end the second half.
But after review, the officials decided to put time back on the clock, giving the Explorers one last chance. And as you might expect, given the way things have been going for the Rams all season, they capitalized.
Fordham is now 9-18 overall and 2-12 in the Atlantic 10. With two games left before the conference tournament, time is running out.
"Good teams are consistent teams," Pecora told WFUV Radio before the game. "We're not there yet."
At least on Saturday the effort was there. Despite being down 9-0 and trailing by as many as 15 in the first half, Fordham recovered. Frazier's three-pointer at the end of the half pulled the Rams to within three heading into the break.
And though they fell behind by double digits again in the second half, Fordham battled back. A 9-0 run cut La Salle's lead to one, 47-46, with 11:15 left in the game.
Fordham never led, but a Bryan Smith jumper with 35.2 seconds left tied the game at 62, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
Turnovers have been an issue all season, and though La Salle (14-14, 6-8 A-10) had its fair share of giveaways (15), the Rams' 13 turnovers didn't help their cause.
Frazier, who has been up and down of late, scored 23 points and had six assists in 38 minutes.
Pecora has talked all season about playing at a high level for 40 minutes. For the most part, that happened on Saturday. And yet the results were the same for the Rams.
"We're doing everything here except winning," Pecora said after the VCU game in a statement that applies to yesterday's loss as well. "We've come a long way in three years. But obviously the last step in the process, the one I get paid for, is winning basketball games. And that's what's got to happen as we move forward."
Thanks to an unbelievable finish, that didn't happen on Saturday.
Unless otherwise noted, quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.
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