Women’s Basketball Splits Against Saint Louis, Dayton


Despite a loss, the Rams have confidence against their toughest tasks. (Courtesy of Mackenzie Cranna)

Fordham Women’s Basketball is in the midst of its toughest stretch so far this season. The team is taking on three teams — Saint Louis University, University of Dayton and Virginia Commonwealth University — who entered last Thursday with just three combined losses in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
With such a tough schedule, expecting Fordham to run the table would have been an unreasonable expectation, and two games into this gauntlet, Fordham is finding out just how difficult it is to beat the best teams in the A-10.

Fordham defeated Saint Louis 66-54 on Thursday night in the Bronx, but fell 48-44 to Dayton in a defensive struggle on Sunday. With the recent results, Fordham is now 12-7 overall and 4-2 in Atlantic 10 play.

On Thursday, the Rams found themselves down by 12 points in the third quarter against Saint Louis, who entered the night 2-3 in conference play. The Billikens jumped out to a 43-31 lead minutes into the second half, but Fordham buckled down shortly thereafter, outscoring the Billikens by 24 points for the rest of the game to cruise to a 66-54 victory that belied the seesaw nature of the game.Fordham’s comeback was highlighted by 12 unanswered points to end the third quarter that brought the teams into the fourth quarter tied at 43.

Junior Bre Cavanaugh led the way for the Rams with 17 points in the second half and 27 points for the game. Freshman Anna DeWolfe and sophomore Kaitlyn Downey also combined for 27 points themselves, and freshman Sarah Karpell hit a three-pointer on her lone shot attempt of the night to put Fordham ahead for good with 7:16 to play.

The Rams shot 44% from the field (23-52) and 35% (9-26) from the three-point line. Encouragingly, sophomore Vilisi Tavui played her second straight solid game, with six rebounds in 13 minutes off the bench.

With a win in hand, Fordham looked to make it four in a row on Sunday against preseason conference favorite Dayton. The home Flyers entered the game at 6-0 as one of three teams still undefeated in A-10 play. Unsurprisingly, Dayton didn’t make things easy for the Rams all day.

The Flyers’ conference-best defense came to play on Sunday, holding Fordham to a staggering 10 points and 4-29 shooting in the first half. If I would have given you those numbers after 20 minutes of play, you would have said that Fordham was getting blown out of the water.

As it turned out, the Rams were down 12, but not out of striking distance thanks to a solid defense of their own.

Fordham slowly started to chip away in the third quarter, outscoring Dayton 12-7 to cut the deficit to seven going into the fourth. Fordham’s shooting numbers were not exponentially better — the team was shooting a putrid 20% heading into the fourth — but thanks to gritty defense and perseverance, Fordham somehow stayed in the game, and shots began to fall.

Fordham started the third quarter on a roll, with Cavanaugh and DeWolfe spearheading the offense. DeWolfe’s three-pointer with five minutes left tied the game at 35 and brought Fordham as close to a lead as it would get all day. Dayton responded with five straight points, but Fordham had another answer in store, as DeWolfe continued her personal 10-0 run and tied the game at 40 by completing an and-one with 1:09 to play.

Dayton senior Jayla Scaife’s jumper on the next possession put the Flyers up two, and the teams played the free throw game the rest of the way, but Dayton was able to survive with a 48-44 victory.

Despite the loss, Fordham can be encouraged by the fact that it competed with one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the conference. The other, VCU, awaits the Rams on Wednesday night in Richmond, Virginia. Fordham should also be encouraged by the fact that it stayed competitive at UD Arena, which has been a house of horrors for the Fordham program over the years. In fact, the Rams had lost their last three road games at Dayton by a combined 69 points.

The road does not get easier for the Fordham women’s basketball team; the Rams take on the Rams of VCU at the Siegal Center at 6 p.m. Wednesday night.