Chris Gatson scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, helping Fordham to a big early lead it never relinquished in an 81-75 victory over Siena Sunday in the Bronx. The Saints played their best basketball of the season in the second half, rallying to within a single point before succumbing late.
Rob Poole scored a career-high 21 points on 7-9 shooting to lead four Saints in double figures.
Fordham shot a blistering 69% (20-29) in the first half, and took a 47-31 lead to the lockerroom. The Rams led by as many as 18 points, but Siena scored 31 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half to close within 63-62.
The Saints trailed 74-69 with 2:17 to play, but Poole missed two free throws with a chance to make it a one possession game and Branden Frazier made two on the other end to push the lead to seven.
Frazier had 20 points and 10 assists for Fordham. Siena made just 17-28 free throws.
Both teams shot well over 50% from the field. Fordham rode its torrid first half to a 59% showing for the game, and Siena made 60% (15-25) of its shots in the second half to shoot 54% for the game.
The 75 points were nine more than Siena had scored in a game in all season, but Fordham's 81 points were the most it has allowed.
"We really worked a lot on our offense the last two weeks," head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. "I thought our defense slipped a bit."
Bryan Smith added 15 points to round out Fordham's double figure scorers.
"I'm really confident after this game," Buoanguro said. "We did a lot of good things, and had our chances down the stretch. It really came down to a few plays. I think it's an effort we can build from."
Siena returns home to face La Salle Saturday. The Saints will try to snap their eight-game losing streak, and nine-game losing streak against current members of the Atlantic 10.