MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele scored 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds and junior Terance Mann scored 14 points and pulled down five rebounds to lead Florida State to a 67-43 victory over Fordham at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in the Jamaica Classic. Kabengele and Mann were the only two Seminoles in double figure scoring as the Seminoles utilized a suffocating defense that limited the Rams to 12 made field goals and a .231 field goal shooting percentage while blocking nine shots and recording 12 steals.
Florida State’s height advantage and ball-hawking defense was on display from the opening tip as they scored took their first double digit lead at 19-9 with 7:43 remaining in the first half. The Seminoles increased their lead to 20 at the 16:01 mark of the second half (40-20) and led by as many as 28 (50-22) with just over 10 minutes remaining.
“I was very pleased with our defensive intensity,” said Seminole Head Coach Leonard Hamilton whose team improved to 2-0 for the third consecutive season. “I wasn’t as pleased with our offensive execution, but we are a work in progress and I really like the direction we are heading on the offensive end of the court. We still have a lot of work to do to reach our potential but I like the direction we are going.”
Playing in only his second career game, Kabengele scored in double figures for the second consecutive game. He scored 10 points in Florida State’s season-opening victory over George Washington on Tuesday in Tallahassee. Kabengele caught fire in the second half as he scored 10 of his 15 points as he took advantage of his size in the paint. He scored his second half points on a lay-up, a dunk, a 3-pointer and three free throws made.
The Seminoles also repeatedly took advantage of Christ Koumadje’s ability to reach high over the smaller Fordham lineup to score easy points. The 7-4 center scored seven points with all three of his field goals coming on thunderous dunks and picturesque assists from both senior Braian Angola and sophomore Trent Forrest.
Florida State hammered the Ram’s basket throughout the game with six dunks including three by Koumadje and one each by Mann, Kebengele and senior Phil Cofer.
While the Seminoles were performing well on the offensive end, it was the defensive effort that propelled them to a win in their first game against Fordham.
The Seminoles limited the Rams to 12 field goals in the game – six in each half while holding them to the fifth-best field goal shooting defense mark in school history. The Ram’s .231 mark from the field is tied for the fifth best in school history and is the best mark since holding George Washington to a .226 mark on Dec. 4, 2016 in a 67-48 win over the Colonials.
Florida State held Fordham to one of 22 made 3-point field goals made including successfully defending their final 16 long range shots of the night.
Florida State held the Rams to 18 first half points, 21 percent field goal shooting in the second half and totaled double digit steals for the second consecutive game. Led by Trent Forrest’s three steals, a total of seven Seminoles earned at least one steals. The Seminoles have 23 steals in the first two games of the season.
The Seminoles held the Rams to six points in the first 10:26 of the second half in extending their lead to 28 points. Fordham scored 25 second half points with more than half (13 of 25) coming from the free throw line.
“We are happy to get the win over a Fordham team that is going to do well in their league,” said Mann. “Everybody contributed and everybody played hard. We have a lot of work to do to become a complete team and this is a step forward in reaching our goals. We have to continue to compete as a team, listen to our coaches, follow our scouting reports and support each other, and we will continue to get better. That’s our goal – to get better every day and in every game we play.”
Fourteen players earned action for the Seminoles and 11 played at least 10 minutes in the victory. Only Mann, the Seminoles’ lone returning starter from their NCAA Tournament team a year ago, played more than 25 minutes against Fordham.
Florida State plays Colorado State on Sunday night at 5 p.m. in its second of two games in Jamaica. Colorado State lost to Tulane, 80-53, earlier on Friday.