By MATT ROSENFELD
Coming off of their first Atlantic 10 loss, a blowout at the hands of Duquesne, the Fordham women’s basketball team responded in a big way. Fordham dominated VCU last Saturday, winning 71-41.
It was all Fordham right from the start, as they began the game on a 5-0 run. Things would only get better for the home team, as both the offense and defense were delivering all game.
Early on, the offense was coming from graduate student Marah Strickland. Strickland, who was honored for her 1,000th career point before the game, was on fire early on. She scored 10 of Fordham’s first 12 points and was a perfect 4-4 from the field (2-2 from three) in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Fordham was up 14-5 with just under 12 minutes left in the first half and then broke the game open. A 10-0 run, in which junior guard Erin Rooney had five points and two rebounds, opened the lead to 24-5 with nine minutes remaining in the half.
Stifling defense from Fordham allowed the lead to grow, as VCU did not get to double digits until 3:42 in the first half. Fordham put together one of its best defensive halves of the year, allowing only 19 points and taking a 22-point lead into half.
Fordham shot 53 percent from the field in the first half and 50 percent from beyond the arc. Both Strickland and Rooney led the game with 13 points at half. Freshman forward Samantha Clark added eight points and five rebounds.
“It was nice to be able to see us shoot with confidence,” head coach Stephanie Gaitley said. “It was one of our goals [heading into the game] and as evidenced by our performance, I think we did.”
The second half saw more domination from Fordham.
Rooney scored the first five points of the half for Fordham, adding a lay-up and a three pointer to up her total to 18 points, pushing the lead up to 24.
Arielle Collins also added to the offensive effort, scoring 10 points of her 17 points in the second half.
Fordham would stretch the lead out to 30, never letting VCU come closer than 18 at any time in the second half.
“That was one of our ‘making history’ games,” Clark said. “I feel like as a team we played great. Our shots are falling and it was just a great game overall for all of us.”
The win puts the Rams at 15-6, which guarantees them a winning record in the regular season for the first time since the 1994-95 season. In the Atlantic 10, Fordham sits at 5-1 and fifth in the conference.
More history was made on the team last week, as Clark was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for the third time, tying the school record for most A-10 Rookie of the Week awards in a year. She ranks third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding.
“I think my team is great, they are my biggest support system,” Clark said. “Them, my family and my coaches have made me feel so comfortable here. I’m not afraid to make mistakes anymore. It’s great.”
The Rams face 7-14 La Salle in Philadelphia on Feb. 6 and then face their toughest matchup of the year on Feb. 9 when No.17 Dayton comes to Rose Hill Gym.