(Photo by Gary Quintal)
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, January 7- The Fordham Rams (10-5) ended their non-conference schedule with a 67-60 victory over the Holy Cross Crusaders (7-7) on Sunday afternoon at the Rose Hill Gym on Fordham’s Bronx campus.
The much improved Rams reached a double figure of non-conference wins, 10, for the first time since the 19993-94 season. The date, January 6, was the earliest in a single season the Fordham women’s team compiled a double digit number of victories.
Stephanie Gaitley, in her second year at the helm of the team, has encouraged and taught her players a careful manner of controlling the basketball and the ability to play with great effort and at the same time with impressive self-control.
The above strengths were important contributions to the Fordham win on Sunday. Prior to the game, Fordham ranked 13th nationally for fewest personal fouls averaged per game with 12.6. The Rams committed only nine fouls in Sunday’s contest. The Rams also committed a season-low total of four turnovers. The assist/turnover ratio on Sunday, 13/4, was their best of the season.
Gaitley has stared the same five in the past seven games. This consistency has resulted in success as the Rams have won five of those seven contests. Three of the five starters are in their first year playing with the squad.
New Zealand’s Erin Rooney is new to Fordham but not to her coach. She played under coach Gaitley at Monmouth during her first two years in college. Rooney transferred to Fordham last year, Gaitley’s first year as Fordham coach. After sitting out last season as required by the NCAA, Rooney has been an important contributor to Fordham’s success this year. She is averaging 13.9 points per game and leads the team in assists.
Marah Strickland, another newcomer, leads the squad in scoring average, 14.0 ppg. The Maryland native played at a very high level of competition during her first three years in college. A McDonald’s high school All-American, Strickland played 70 games in her first two college years at Maryland. She played 19 games as a junior at South Carolina. She sat out last year, but is completing her final year of eligibility as a graduate student.
Freshman Samantha Clark of New Jersey has started Fordham’s last seven games. She has averaged 10 points per game in those seven. Clark was Fordham’s first Top-100 woman’s recruit.
On Sunday, the two Jesuit institutions of higher learning played closely until an 11-2 run by the Rams gave them a 19-11 advantage mid-way through the first half. The crusaders followed with a 13-5 scoring run to tie the score at 24 with 4:38 remaining in the period.
A Fordham run of 13-2 brought the Rams to a double figure lead, 39-29, at 16:57 in the second half. Fordham increased its advantage to 16, but a 20-6 scoring run by Holy Cross cut the lead to two, 57-55, with 3:49 on the clock.
Rooney took over the game in the final 13 minutes. After feeding her teammates in two straight baskets, she scored the next 13 points for Fordham. She closed with a game high 20 points and six assists.
Fordham’s five starters scored all the team’s points, Strickland-16, Abigail Corning-13, Arielle Collins-10 and Clark-8.
The Rams begin their 14 game Atkantic-10 Conference schedule next Sunday, January 13, at Charlotte.
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