Women’s Basketball Earns Double-Digit Victory Over George Mason


Bre Cavanaugh has become the A-10 leading scorer as the conference schedule intensifies. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Women’s Basketball entered Sunday’s matchup with George Mason University with up-and-down performances to its name in Atlantic 10 play. Fordham started the conference schedule with a win over St. Bonaventure University but followed it up with a loss to conference-leading Davidson College. The Rams’ third A-10 game of the year turned into a slugfest between Fordham and George Washington University, with the Rams prevailing in a late victory. With these results in tow, Fordham entered Sunday’s matchup against George Mason with something to prove.

In that game, Fordham proved that it is still capable of playing as well as anyone else in the A-10.

Fordham toppled George Mason 66-54 in a dominant road performance to move to 3-1 in A-10 play. Fordham’s offense was led by junior Bre Cavanaugh, who scored 29 points on 9-20 shooting. The other major key for Fordham was shutting down George Mason junior and defending A-10 Player of the Year Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, who shot just 4-15 (26.7%) from the field and scored 15 points.

“I thought we played some really good defense in stretches,” Fordham head coach Stephanie Gaitley said. “So, it’s a great road win.”

Cavanaugh was by far the best player on the floor on Sunday and emerged as the clear winner of the battle between her and Cardaño-Hillary as — arguably — the two best players in the Atlantic 10. With Sunday’s results, Cavanaugh is now the A-10’s leading scorer, with Cardaño-Hillary close behind.

“She’s been a great leader,” Gaitley said of Cavanaugh. “They (CBS Sports Network) asked me on TV today about Bre and her shooting, and I’m like, ‘I can’t get mad at her because she puts the time in…she’s earned the right to take those shots.’”

“Those shots” are the type that Cavanaugh and only a select few other players can make — floaters through contact near the basket, jump shots off the dribble, three-pointers around screens. Cavanaugh’s unique ability to get to the basket, get hot from the field and lead the Fordham offense were all on display on Sunday.

However, she was not the only player making serious contributions to Fordham. Sophomore Kaitlyn Downey had 15 points and seven rebounds to go along with excellent interior defense. Redshirt sophomore Vilisi Tavui played her best game of the season off the bench, scoring four points and yanking down six rebounds in just 13 minutes. Last but not least, junior Kendell Heremaia, as usual, did a little bit of everything, scoring eight points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out seven assists.

Fordham led the game from wire-to-wire, as there were no lead changes. The Rams led 26-17 at halftime and pulled away in the third quarter, starting the second half on an 11-4 run. Fordham never allowed the Patriots to pull within single digits after the first two minutes of the second half.

With the win, Fordham has started Atlantic 10 play on a high note and the loss dropped George Mason to 1-4 in conference play. While Fordham has done its job early on in conference play, the hard part of the schedule now begins. Fordham will take on St. Louis, Dayton and VCU in its next three games in what will comprise its toughest test of the season.

Win all three and the Rams are in an excellent position to finish at or near the top of the conference. Lose all three and Fordham will fall below .500 and reach a crossroads in late January. Somewhere between those two outcomes lies the likeliest result, and the forthcoming gauntlet — against teams that are a combined 11-3 early on in the conference season — will give a good read on where Fordham stands after the first month of Atlantic 10 play.
If Fordham can play up to the level it did on Sunday, the Rams will give an extremely good accounting of themselves over the next few games.