- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Losing to St. John’s has been a real problem lately for Fordham.

The Red Storm had won the last four meetings and have a very comfortable lead in the series that started in 1909.

On Wednesday night at Rose Hill Gymnasium things were different. Very different.

Ryan Rhoomes had a career-high 26 points and a season-high 12 rebounds to lead Fordham to a 73-57 victory, extending their winning streak to five games.

“I didn’t think about losing. I just didn’t,” Rhoomes a senior forward who was in high school the last time the Rams beat the Red Storm and both teams had different coaches: Tom Pecora at Fordham and Steve Lavin at St. John’s

“It’s been fun,” Rhoomes said about the winning streak. “It finally feels good to be a Ram.”

Fordham (5-1), using a variety of defenses, took control early with pressure on the guards, forcing turnovers and leading to some easy points.

“Our team did a very good competing tonight,” first-year Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer said. “We talk all the time about defensive mentality. We gave St. John’s 25 points in the first half. That’s what we’re talking about.”

Mandell Thomas and Jon Severe had 14 points each for the Rams, who led 41-25 at halftime and were never threatened in the second half.

Felix Balamou led the Red Storm (4-3) with 14 points and Christian Jones had 11.

This was a matchup between teams picked to finish last in their respective conferences.

“The difference between the programs now is that we inherited some really talented, experienced players,” Neubauer said. “St. John’s is an all new team.”

Fordham, of the Atlantic 10, had been compiling some impressive numbers against a less-than-spectacular early schedule but the Rams came close to matching them against a Big East team.

They scored seven points below their average and shot 44.8 percent (26 of 58), not far off the 50 percent they were shooting entering the game. They outrebounded St. john’s 36-31, 16-10 on the offensive glass.

“There are going to be a lot of tough nights,” first-year St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said after his team’s first true road game. “It’s going to be tough with young, inexperienced players going through a lot of these first-time experiences. We worked a lot on pressure defense the last few days and we handled it well in practice. Not tonight.”

The Rams led 19-17 when they took advantage of St. John’s turnovers to go on a 16-2 run with Thomas hitting two 3-pointers to start it and Severe closing it with four straight points. The Red Storm had six of their 13 first-half turnovers and missed all three shots in that 5:07 span that gave the Rams a 35-19 lead with 3:15 left in the half.

The game was the first for St. John’s freshmen Kassoum Yakwe who was cleared by the NCAA to play last week. The 6-foot-7 forward from Mali was ruled eligible the same day Cheick Diallo, his teammate at Our Savior New American in Centereach, New York, was cleared to play for No. 5 Kansas. Yakwe had nine points and three rebounds in 18 minutes.

“I’m disappointed because we lost,” Yakwe said. “I played all right but my rebounding wasn’t good.”

Marcus LoVett, another at St. John’s freshman, was declared a partial qualifier by the NCAA this month. He can practice with the team but cannot play in games.

LONG TIME:

These schools met for the first time in 1909 and this was their 87th meeting. St. John’s entered with a 65-21 all-time advantage, including the last four straight.

TIP-INS:

St. John’s: With the loss St. John’s remains at 1,799 wins. The Red Storm will become the eighth Division I school with 1,800. They have 959 losses. … St. John’s was again without freshman G Malik Ellison (foot) and junior college F Darien Williams (shoulder). No timetable has been given for their returns. … The Red Storm had 13 turnovers in the first half, 0.8 below their average for a game coming in. They finished with 19.

Fordham: Chartouny was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week after averaging 13.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games last week. … Fordham has won 614 games in Rose Hill Gym since it opened in 1925. That makes the Rams one of 14 Division I programs to have 600 wins in its current home building.

UP NEXT:

St. John’s plays Saint Francis Brooklyn at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

Fordham hosts Central Connecticut State on Saturday.

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