Rutgers speeds by Fordham with 75-63 victory at home
Corey Sanders collects his 1,000th career point in win over visiting Rams
After the backcourt seized control of the Rutgers men's basketball team's last game against Fairleigh Dickinson, the frontcourt took the reins Tuesday night.
The duo of fifth-year senior forward Deshawn Freeman and senior forward Candido Sa helped propel the Scarlet Knights (9-3, 0-2) over Fordham (4-6) at the RAC on Tuesday to the tune of 75-63. Freeman and Sa combined for 24 points on the night, with Sa going perfect (4-of-4) from the field.
Slated as just another midseason nonconference bout at the beginning of the season, the game turned out to be plenty more for junior guard Corey Sanders, who notched his 1,000th career point in his 72nd career game as a Knight.
From the opening whistle, it seemed like Rutgers would have one of those games against competition it should put away easily, as with NJIT last Thursday.
The Knights missed their first four shots, with the team settling for mid-range attempts, being unable to get the ball inside. It took almost three minutes before Rutgers nabbed its first basket, and from there, besides hiccups in some departments, it was relatively smooth sailing.
Those hiccups, as has been the case recently, were usually turnovers, which ate at this Knights side in the first half, as the Rams forced eight turnovers out of Rutgers, a product of mostly the home side's sloppiness on offense. The Knights cleaned up their game in the second half, only committing six turnovers in the period, leveling Fordham's pension for forcing giveaways.
Unlike offensive sloppiness, one area that has not been a bother all season for Rutgers has been its defense, controlling the boards and forcing its fair share of turnovers for the most part up until Thursday.
The Knights' mental fortitude on defense was tested on numerous occasions Thursday night, and they got fairly complacent in the waning minutes of the first half, committing fouls on two consecutive made 3-pointers, as Fordham collected 4-point plays to cut into Rutgers' lead.
A timeout later and the Knights forced three successive shot clock violations out of the Rams, buckling down after a string of trying defensive possessions.
Beyond that, Rutgers did well in letting Fordham living out on the perimeter on offense, despite the Rams shooting 38 percent from downtown. The Knights more than doubled the Bronx squad's total points in the paint, 48-20, Tuesday night, and that was equally felt in the rebounding department, where Rutgers once again dominated.
The Knights outrebounded Fordham Tuesday night, 45-27, with many (15) of those coming on the offensive end for Rutgers, a welcome pattern for the Knights this season.
Tuesday night's game was serviceable for Rutgers — it did not play nearly to its height, shooting under 50 percent and still having stretches of lackadaisical play on offense.
Against No. 15 Seton Hall come Saturday, none of those things will be sufficient for the Knights to reclaim the Garden State Hardwood Classic.
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