NEW YORK (AP) — Fordham’s certainly not looking like the team expected to be a part of the back end of the Atlantic 10 Conference this season.
The Rams entered the season as one of the youngest in Division I with eight freshman and two sophomores on the 17-man roster. It’s no surprise their youth was a factor in the early forecasts, however, freshman Nick Honor is playing years beyond his nine-game career.
Honor scored a career-high 30 points going 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point line and Fordham upset Rutgers 78-70 on Saturday in a hyped-up, overflow crowd at Rose Hill Gym. He entered the game averaging 17.5 points and set his previous career high of 28 points in just his third game in an 83-77 win against Florida International on Nov. 16.
“Fordham was the tougher team today,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “When you go on the road, if you’re not the tougher team, you’re probably not going to win.”
Against Rutgers, the two teams remained even for most of the first half before Rutgers outscored Fordham 12-7 in the last five minutes of the half and led 31-26 at intermission.
Honor and fellow freshman Antwon Portley each converted layups out of the break and reduced the deficit to a point. Later, Ivan Raut buried a 3-pointer and immediately followed it up with a 3-point play to push the Rams ahead 42-37 with 14:56 left.
Honor made a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 49-42 before the Scarlet Knights outscored Fordham 14-5 in an eight-minute span. Issa Thiam made a pair of free throws, followed with a 3 and Rutgers led 56-54. Jalen Cobb’s jump shot knotted it before the 5-foot-10 Honor took over and sandwiched a pair 3-pointers around two fouls shots and Fordham led the rest of the way.
Rutgers finished shooting 10 of 22 from behind the arc compared to 4 of 16 for the Scarlet Knights. Cobb scored 17 for Fordham (7-2) and Portley chipped in 10.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights last year got beat by Hartford and Stony Brook. Now they’ve added Fordham to their list of surprising defeats.
Fordham: It was the Rams’ first win over a Big Ten opponent since beating Northwestern, 63-60, on Dec. 22, 2001. Fordham so far has blunted early expectations and has started the season winning seven of its first nine games. The Rams were picked to finished last in the 14-team Atlantic 10.
It’s been almost 83 years since a Big Ten member traveled to play a game a Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym. The Purdue Boilermakers made the trip in February 1935. “Someone told me that and I’m not surprised,” Pikiell said.
TAKING THE SERIES LEAD
The Rams now own a 28-27 series lead against Rutgers. Prior to Saturday, Rutgers had won the past five meetings, including a 75-63 win at Rutgers last year.
Rutgers: Will travel to Seton Hall to face the Pirates on Saturday.
Fordham: Hosts NJIT on Tuesday night.