Women’s Basketball Dumps URI, Loses Close to Davidson


Women’s Basketball split their last two games, giving it a 4-3 record in the Atlantic 10. (Mackenzie Cranna)

By Jack McLoone

Fordham Women’s Basketball had seemingly ironed out at least some of their issues against the University of Rhode Island in their 56-38 road win on Thursday, but followed up with a crushing late loss to Davidson, 60-56. Fordham is now 13-8, but just 4-3 in Atlantic 10 play, putting them at sixth in the conference.

The win over URI was a trademark Stephanie Gaitley defensive game. The Fordham Rams’ head coach preaches defense over everything, and her team snapped its two-game losing streak by holding URI to under 40 points for the first time this season. A main reason for their success was forcing URI to turn the ball over 18 times (to Fordham’s 11) and holding their opponent under 31 percent from the field, including not a single made three.

However, URI is currently 11th in the A-10 (yes, that doesn’t make sense, move along). In fact, of Fordham’s four conference wins, only one team is outside the bottom half of the league —George Washington, who sit just above the Rams at fifth. Including their loss on Sunday, all three of the Rams’ dropped conference games came against the top three teams in the A-10.

Following their victory over Fordham, the Wildcats of Davidson are now second in the conference. However, it did not look like the game would end up the way it did over the first three quarters.

The Ram defense dominated the opening quarter, holding Davidson to just seven points, including just one basket over the final seven minutes of the first. Meanwhile, the Rams were able to follow Gaitley’s game plan, turning defense into offense by putting up 16 of their own.

Half of those points were scored by senior forward Mary Goulding, who ended up tying her season-high of 16 points for the third time. She also pulled in a career-high 15 rebounds.

While the Rams pushed the lead to as much as 15 in the second quarter — on a layup from sophomore guard Zara Jillings — the Wildcats clawed their way back to end the half down just six.

Fordham has struggled from three as of late, with the 26.5-percent performance from three against URI — on 34 attempts — a high over the previous three games. However, it got worse, starting with the Rams not making a single three in the entire first half, going 0-7. The problem is confounding Gaitley, who has not been able to nail down one clear culprit.

With 2:33 left in the third quarter, a Ram finally connected from deep. Fittingly, it was senior Lauren Holden, a typically lethal three-point shooter who has been off for pretty much the entire season. She went 1-5 from three in this game.

At the end of the quarter, Fordham was still clinging to a five-point lead.

With 6:37 to go in the fourth quarter, Davidson tied the game for the first time. About a minute later, they sunk a layup to go up two, the Wildcats’ first lead. Goulding hit two free throws to tie it back up at 60, but another Davidson bucket gave the Wildcats the lead for good.

“I think our defense let up, and when Davidson was able to score, their run and jump gave us problems and took us out of our rhythm,” said Gaitley.

Just like the Rams kept the Wildcats from scoring over the final seven minutes of the first quarter, Davidson prevented Fordham from making a single field goal for six minutes in the fourth quarter.

However, the defense was mostly standing tall, so when sophomore guard Bre Cavanaugh hit a jumper with just over two minutes left, the Rams were still down just five. The Rams couldn’t force a clutch turnover late, so threes from freshman forward Kaitlyn Downey and sophomore guard Kendell Heremaia — the Rams’ second and third made threes of the game — were all for naught.

If it is any solace to the Rams — which it most certainly won’t be for a team that is light on the “moral victory” talk — the quality of loss, at least when it came to defense, was better than their other two A-10 losses.

While Gaitley is struggling to figure out why the Rams are struggling from three, she knows why they are struggling as a whole: not playing full games.

“Right now we are playing well in stretches, and then we have mental lapses,” she said. “You can’t beat the top teams with lapses.”

The Rams will get another chance to pick on the bottom half of the conference on Thursday, Jan. 31, when they travel to take on La Salle at 7 p.m. But then they will have to turn around and take on the fourth-best team in the A-10, Duquesne, at home on Sunday, Feb. 3 at noon.