By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 31- Aficionados of college women’s basketball in the Bronx had an opportunity to attend two doubleheaders shortly before the close of 2013 as the 7th annual Fordham Holiday Classic was held on the afternoons of December 29 and December 30 at the Rose Hill Gym. As in the previous six years, the invitees included teams from a wide area of the nation and from several conferences.
In the opening contest on Sunday afternoon, the Fordham Rams easily triumphed over the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) Spartans, 79-48. The Rams began aggressively by scoring the first eight points. At 11:35, Fordham reached its first double digit lead of the contest, 15-5. They increased their lead at the half to 39-20.
Mid-way through the second half, Fordham increased its advantage to an insurmountable 67-34. Fordham’s experienced and classy coach, Stephanie Gaitley, gave all the reserves on its bench an opportunity to see action and to ensure that the visiting team from the South was not treated to an even more embarrassing defeat.
Erin Rooney paced the Rams, nearly achieving a triple double with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in only 27 minutes on court.
The closing game of day #1 was the first meeting between the Harvard Crimson and the Tulsa Hurricanes. The two teams battled competitively on a court foreign to both. Control of the boards, 44 rebounds to 32, and six additional points from the charity stripe gave the 61-57 victory to Harvard.
The consolation contest between Tulsa and UNCG opened the second day of the tourney. The game was hard fought and evenly played by two teams that never previously faced one another. Tulsa led throughout most of the first half, but the Spartans took a 27-26 lead with four minutes left in the half. The Hurricanes followed with 10 unanswered points, and led at the half, 36-32.
After knotting the score at 38 early in the second half, the Spartans remained behind for the remainder of the game. They cut the Tulsa advantage to a single point on four occasions, but could not again equal the Tulsa point total. The Hurricanes won, 76-71.
The title contest of the two-day tourney was between Fordham and Harvard. Interestingly, the two men’s teams of the same universities met in the same Bronx venue two nights earlier. The Rams’ ability from beyond the arc furnished them an advantage during the opening half. Five of Fordham’s first six baskets were from downtown and allowed the Rams to lead, 20-12 at 7:47. A basket and a free throw by Emily Tapio brought Fordham its first double figure advantage of the game, 25-14, at 5:56.
Fordham never lost the double figure advantage again during the contest. During the final two minutes of the game, Fordham, in the person of Abigail Corning, outscored the Crimson, 6-1, to raise its final score lead to a game high 20 points, 64-44. The win was the 10th straight for the Rams, equaling a mark last accomplished in the 1978-79 season. They are undefeated at home, 7-0.
Corning had an impressive game for the Rams, grabbing 12 boards, scoring 9 and dishing 6 assists. Rooney led all scorers in the contest with 19.
Corning and Rooney were named to the All-Tournament team along with Janaé Stevenson of UNCG, Mariah Turner of Tulsa and Temi Fagbenle of Harvard.
The women of Fordham next see action on the evening of January 2 in the Bronx versus Saint Louis. It will be Fordham’s first Atlantic-10 conference game of the season.