After a pair of hotly contested games at the Atlantic 10 Championship, the Fordham Women’s Basketball season finally came to an end last week. Playing in the Richmond Coliseum in Virginia, the Rams pulled off an overtime win over Massachusetts on Thursday before dropping a close one to Duquesne on Friday, spelling the end of their run. They finished their season with a 14-16 overall record.
While Fordham failed to advance past the quarterfinals, the team delivered some strong individual performances. Senior forward Samantha Clark and junior forward Danielle Burns were both in fine form, making a big impression on the rest of the conference, despite the Rams’ early exit.
Fordham’s win over Massachusetts ended with a final score of 73-62. Clark found herself in foul trouble near the end of the game, but other Rams picked up the slack. Burns scored 28 points, while junior forward Danielle Padovano added nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The game was an extremely even one, with the score tied at the end of each half. Sophomore guard Asnate Fomina hit a three-pointer at the start of the second quarter to give the Rams a four-point lead, a margin that neither team would surpass until the second half. The Minutewomen eventually tied it up, and the halftime score was 25-25.
In the third quarter, the scales began to tip in the Rams’ favor, however slightly. A Burns jumper with 5:49 remaining pushed Fordham’s lead to five, and three minutes later, Fomina buried another from beyond the arc to make it six. Massachusetts recovered somewhat, but the Rams were still able to carry a four-point advantage into the game’s final period.
The last quarter was a thriller. The Rams led by eight with just 2:46 remaining in the game, but the Minutewomen battled their way back, going on a 9-1 run to end the game. Fordham’s failure to make free throws ended up making the difference — the Rams converted on just one attempt in regulation. With just 26 seconds remaining, Clark missed one that would have been decisive and given Fordham the victory. Instead, the two teams headed to overtime with the score knotted at 52.
Clark fouled out with 3:17 remaining in overtime and Fordham leading by two, but the Rams were able to adjust. They finished the game on a 15-6 run to win by a margin of 11 and advance to the next round. The win was a true team effort with Burns, Fomina and freshman guard Lauren Holden all contributing significantly after Clark’s exit.
“We knew it was going to take a heroic effort tonight,” head coach Stephanie Gaitley said of the game. “We’re a different team when Sam is off the court. The kids aren’t used to it, so we had to keep it fun and just say let’s play.”
The next night, Fordham faced the Duquesne Dukes. It was another close game, but this time, the Rams fell short, losing 70-65.
In its early stages, the game was one-sided. Duquesne opened the first quarter by going on a 9-0 run, putting the Rams at an immediate disadvantage. At its conclusion, the Rams still trailed by 10. The tide began to turn in the second quarter, as the Rams started it off with their own 9-0 run to pull within one. However, they could not maintain their spirited play for the remainder of the half and fell behind once again. At halftime, Duquesne led by a score of 31-22.
It was in the third quarter that the Rams finally made their move. Trailing by 10 with 6:24 remaining in the period, junior guard Hannah Missry made a three-pointer that ended up sparking a 15-6 run. In just over three minutes, Fordham had cut Duquesne’s once-daunting lead to one point. The rest of the quarter went back and forth, with Clark and Padovano providing the offense for the Rams. Heading into the final quarter, the score was 51-50 with Duquesne leading.
The score remained relatively even for much of the fourth quarter. A three-pointer from Burns gave Fordham its first lead of the game, but Duquesne quickly took it back and remained in the driver’s seat for the next four minutes. With 2:55 remaining, Clark converted on a three-point play to give the Rams a two-point lead, but back-to-back turnovers doomed them, as they watched the Dukes go on a 6-0 run to go up by four. Fordham tried to battle back, but it was too late. The Dukes put the game away with their free throw shooting, winning by a final score of 70-65.
In her final game as a Fordham Ram, Clark put up a memorable performance, scoring 20 points to go along with 12 rebounds. It was her 14th double-double of the season.
“I think we gave Duquesne everything we possibly could. We put the effort on Sam’s shoulders, and I couldn’t be more proud of her,” Gaitley said. “We faced so much adversity this season, and to stay tough down the stretch speaks volumes of Sam and our team.”
Holden also thrived in the spotlight, adding 15 points to go along with five assists. Burns and Missry contributed 11 points each.
While they could not repeat the conference-winning performance displayed in 2014, it was still a productive season for the Rams. Clark made the most of her final go-round, while Burns and Missry also made important contributions. Underclassmen Holden, Fomina and forward G’mrice Davis logged plenty of meaningful minutes, pointing to a bright future for the program.
The team’s two seniors, Clark and guard Khadijah Gibson, will graduate this spring. Clark will leave with the second-most rebounds and seventh-most points in Fordham history. Gibson did not play this season, but her presence on the team will surely be missed.