Women’s Basketball Suffers Blowout Loss at Columbia

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Women’s Basketball Suffers Blowout Loss at Columbia

Jimmy Sullivan, Sports Editor

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Fordham Women’s Basketball played a heart-stopping, emotional and taxing game against Notre Dame last Tuesday. Entering Sunday’s matchup against Columbia, the Rams and head coach Stephanie Gaitley were concerned with a letdown against a tough team, especially coming off the high of taking the Irish down to the wire.

On Sunday, Fordham’s fears became a reality.

The Rams fell 70–51 to Columbia at Levien Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon after being outscored by 18 points in the second half. Fordham got off to a slow start in the first quarter, as the host Lions carried a seven-point lead into the first media timeout, halfway through the first quarter. Fordham trimmed the deficit to one by the end of the quarter, and the Rams were up 31–27 with a minute to play before half.

At that point, Columbia sophomore Madison Hardy took over, with a deep three and a nifty reverse layup in a span of under a minute to give Columbia a one-point lead heading into halftime. Fordham regained a 35–34 lead two minutes into the second half when junior Kendell Heremaia made a layup underneath. On the next possession, Columbia sophomore Mikayla Markham countered with a lay-in of her own and the lead changed hands once more.

Thanks to Columbia’s dominance, Markham’s layup precipitated the final lead change of the game.

Columbia started to pull away late in the third quarter, outscoring Fordham 19–12 over the course of 10 minutes. In the fourth and final quarter, back-to-back threes from Hardy and junior Madison Pack gave the Lions a 14-point lead, and Fordham was unable to get back within less than 11 points for the rest of the game. The Rams scored just eight points in the quarter and multiple defensive lapses allowed Columbia to run away with a 70–51 victory and hand the Rams their second-straight loss to start the year.

Offensively, Fordham struggled again with making shots. However, last Tuesday’s season-opener with Notre Dame showed that Fordham could stay in games with anyone if the team could defend. On Sunday, the second part of that equation went out the window, with Columbia getting easy looks inside and making 58% of its shots in the second half. The Lions were able to make the occasional deep shot but, more concerningly for Fordham, got inside consistently to convert easy looks at the rim.

Fordham’s offense consistently went through sophomore Kaitlin Downey, as she tallied 19 points on 8–14 shooting while also hitting three shots from behind the arc. Downey was the only Ram to shoot above 50%, as the rest of the team made just 12 of its 40 shots on the day. Heremaia had success down low and in the post, which is an encouraging sign for the Rams going forward. However, the Fordham offense has struggled to produce over the first two games of the season.

Still, Gaitley — a defensive-minded coach who logged her thousandth career game on Sunday — will be far more concerned with her team’s defensive miscues on Sunday. While there were issues the entire game, Fordham’s defense was particularly porous in the second half. The other concern for Fordham is that Columbia outmatched the Rams’ energy in many phases, including the rebound battle, which Fordham lost by 10.

We’ll find out just how much Fordham has cleaned up when the Rams face yet another critical early-season test at Penn State tonight at 7 p.m. Fordham fell to the Nittany Lions by 17 points in the Bronx last season. The Rams will have to improve their level of play from Sunday’s game to avoid that outcome this season.