Ignored by the NCAA playoff committee, the Fordham Rams are doing their best to get noticed in the National Invitation Tournament.
Thursday night, the Patriot League champions took their show on the road to beat South Florida 76-66 in a first-round NIT game."We were disappointed not to go to the NCAA, but we have a lot of respect for the NIT," Fordham's Dave Buckner said. "We hope to go back to New York and play in Madison Square Garden (site of the NIT's Final Four)."
If the Rams play like Thursday night, they will.
Buckner jump-started the Rams' offense with his sixth 3-pointer and Fordham scored the last 15 points of the game to win the first-round matchup at South Florida's Sun Dome.
"It was very tough down the stretch," Fordham coach Nick Macarchuk said. "It was a good win. That was a good team we beat."
The NIT wraps up first-round play tonight as South Carolina (19-12) plays host to George Washington (19-11), Wyoming (19-11) plays host to Butler (18-10), Furman (20-8) is at West Virginia (16-13), and La Salle (19-9) plays at Massachusetts (17-11).
The NIT got underway Wednesday night. Providence went into double overtime to defeat James Madison 98-93, Wisconsin needed OT to beat Bowling Green 87-79, Cincinnati beat Ball State 82-55, Colorado beat Michigan 71-64, Southern Illinois nipped Boise State 75-74 and Stanford stopped Houston 93-86.
Buckner finished with 25 points, including six of seven shots from 3-point range. The Rams shot 77.8 percent in the second half to improve to 25-7 - the best record of any team that wasn't selected to play in the NCAA tournament.
"We weren't trying to make a statement," said Buckner, who had 14 second-half points.
Fordham hit 14 of 18 shots after halftime and did the job on the defensive end as well, holding South Florida (19-11) to one field goal in the final seven minutes.
Oklahoma 111, Tulsa 86
Kermit Holmes scored 28 points as Oklahoma returned to its old form and kept Tulsa winless in the last 10 years of postseason play.
The Sooners (17-14) built a 19-point halftime lead and, unlike recent games, continued a relentless assault against their in-state rivals at Norman.
Brent Price added 24 points and Jeff Webster 22 for Oklahoma, which shot 52 percent.
Memphis St. 82, Ala.-Birmingham 76
Elliot Perry scored 24 points and host Memphis State won on the strength of a seven-point run in the second half.
The game was a preview of sorts. Memphis State (17-14) moves from the Metro Conference to the fledgling Great Midwest Conference next season. UAB (18-13) moves there from the Sunbelt Conference.
Arkansas St. 78, Rice 71
At Jonesboro, Arkansas State's Bobby Gross scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and Dewayne McCray worked inside for 20 points.
SW Missouri St. 57, Coppin St. 47
Darryl Reid scored 14 points and keyed a late second-half rally as Southwest Missouri State won at Springfield.
Siena 90, Fairleigh Dickinson 85
Marc Brown had 31 points and Doremus Bennerman hit three free throws in the final 1:03 to ice the game for Siena (24-9). Mike Brown added 20 points.