Women’s Basketball Loses Late to VCU


Lauren Holden (above) scored 11 points on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to push the Rams past VCU. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

After winning in an exciting, last-second fashion on Sunday at Saint Louis, Fordham Women’s Basketball had its seven-game win streak snapped by Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday night at the Rose Hill Gym by a score of 47-44.

With the win, VCU now sits atop the Atlantic 10 with a 4-0 conference record and 12-5 overall. Fordham is now third, 3-1 in conference play and 12-6 overall.

Despite a sluggish entire second half for the Rams of Fordham — the team was outscored by the VCU Rams 30-14 in the second half — it still came down to the final moments. VCU was leading by just two with 3:24 remaining, 46-44. But while Fordham had multiple opportunities to score in the waning moments, and were playing tight enough defense to keep VCU from extending the lead as well, not a single Ram shot fell.

As evident in the final score, it was a defensive game throughout. Fordham shot just 37.8 percent from the field, including a disastrous 22.7 percent from three. VCU only faired a little better as a whole — 39.1 percent from the field — but also only made 22.2 percent of their threes.

While head coach Stephanie Gaitley preaches offense coming as a result of defense, sophomore guard Bre Cavanaugh often struggles with these tighter games, as she is a high-volume scorer. And while she paced the Rams with 12 points, she shot just 29.4 percent from the field, including just 1-8 from three.

The Fordham defense did beget some offense in the first half. A 13-8 run at the end of the first quarter turned into a 30-17 lead at the half.

That energy considered into the third quarter, with Fordham maintaining their lead at 39-26 with 5:41 left in the quarter. But over the time remaining, VCU outscored Fordham 14-1 to knot the game heading into the fourth quarter.

“I thought we came on strong to them at halftime about no let up since that’s what happened at Saint Louis too,” said Gaitley via email. “Kendell and Mary getting in foul trouble forced us to have two freshmen on the court when they made their run.”

Those two freshmen filling in for sophomore guard Kendell Heremia and senior forward Mary Goulding were starting freshman forward Kaitlyn Downey and reserve freshman forward Megan Jonassen. While Jonassen has been the first player off the bench for Fordham for much of this season, she usually comes in to spell Downey. They do not have as much experience playing on the court at the same time, and neither is particularly used to being on the court without the typically stout defense of Goulding behind them.

The fourth quarter was another slog. Halfway through the quarter, both teams had scored just four points apiece, tying the game at 44. Over the remaining five minutes, the only converted field goal was a layup by Danielle Hammond for VCU, giving those Rams the aforementioned 46-44 lead over the Fordham ones, with a late free throw setting the final score at 47-44.

“The message [is] to get back on track is to put people away when you have leads and to take care of the ball,” said Gaitley on what she told her team after the loss. “We only went to the foul line six times and settled for defended threes instead of attacking the basket.”

The Rams made just five of their 22 three point attempts.

If Fordham hopes to prevent their first loss since the end of November from turning into back-to-back losses, they will have to defeat Dayton on the road, something the Rams have historically struggled with, going 0-3 in their last three trips to Ohio.

The Dayton Flyers are currently fourth in the conference with a 3-1 A-10 record and 8-7 overall. Its one conference loss was at George Washington on Jan. 12, 46-45 (the Rams beat George Washington 50-38 on Jan. 5). The Flyers will be coming off a win, having topped St. Bonaventure on Jan. 16 62-49.

The Rams will play Dayton on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m.