Women’s Basketball Survives Slugfest With George Washington

Entering Sunday’s matchup against George Washington at 1–1 in A-10 play, Fordham Women’s Basketball would have taken a victory by any means necessary. In Sunday’s game, the Rams had to survive for a win by almost every necessary means.

Fordham defeated GW 53–47 in the Bronx in what would best be described as a rock fight between the last two Atlantic 10 champions.

“I was proud of the kids when it came down to a defensive stop,” Fordham head coach Stephanie Gaitley said. 

The Rams were up by two with under a minute to go when the visiting Colonials got possession with 33 seconds left. With a chance to tie or take the lead, GW instead turned it over, as a brilliant disguise by the Fordham defense caused a giveaway and a foul near half court. Fordham sophomore Kaitlyn Downey fell on the ball and drew a foul on George Washington freshman Tori Hyduke. After several GW fouls, two clutch free throws each by juniors Kendell Heremaia and Bre Cavanaugh helped ice the game and give Fordham a much-needed win to move to 2–1 early in the A-10 season.

“I think it’s huge because we haven’t had close games,” Gaitley said. “I mean, we were beaten pretty handily by Davidson, in our Christmas tournament, we weren’t challenged… it came down to a stop, so you couldn’t have scripted that any better.”

The Fordham Women’s Basketball program has long been hailed for its defensive prowess, and the Rams needed to lean on that lockdown defense on Sunday. Fordham’s offense struggled to score all day, and the team finished the game shooting just 37% from the field and 8–26 from three-point range. That being said, Fordham always feels like it is in the game if it can play quality defense, and this theory was affirmed over 40 minutes on Sunday.

Individually, most of the usual suspects led the Fordham attack. Freshman Anna DeWolfe dropped 10 points on 4–10 shooting. Cavanaugh had 12 points including a quick eight out of the gates in the first quarter. Heremaia, the A-10’s leading rebounder entering Sunday’s action, affected the game in several different ways, with 12 points, five rebounds and four early steals. Last but not least, Downey played one of her best games as a Ram, scoring 12 points and playing excellent defense down low. 

Fordham got everything it could handle from a George Washington team that is much improved off of last year’s 10–20 showing. Fordham had a 10-point lead at the halftime break, but a cold shooting performance in the second half meant that the Rams needed to lean on their defense and toughness to pull through with a win. In the end, Fordham was able to do just that.

After Sunday’s win, Fordham will have some time off. The team’s next game isn’t until this Sunday at George Mason, with tip-off from Fairfax coming at 4 p.m. The home side will boast the defending Atlantic 10 Player of the Year in junior Nicole Cardaño-Hillary. The matchup should be an exciting battle between her and two of the A-10’s best players so far this season in Fordham’s Cavanaugh and Heremaia.