Women’s Basketball Season Preview: Unfinished Business

Fordham Women’s Basketball brings experience and new additions into a season that promises to pose difficult tests, conference success, and hopefully, something more in March.


With new players, the women’s basketball team is looking to have a strong year after a rough end to last season. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Athletics hosted an inaugural event called Late Night on the Hill to bring the community together in celebration of the women’s and men’s basketball teams as they get ready to begin their seasons. It is the start of a new era for one team but the expectation of continued success for another.

The anticipation has been ramping up all along, not just for this event, but the season as a whole. With less than a week to go until their first game, the team is deep into its all-team practices, media days and intrasquad games. Now comes the time to compete and showcase all of the hard work. Predicted to finish within the top three at the end of the season, there is a lot to look forward to, and the fans are ready for the excitement. 

After an unfortunate end to the season last year, largely due to COVID-19 concerns out of their control, the Rams are ready for a largely normal season with almost 30 games ahead on the schedule. With such a high ranking in the conference, the spotlight will be on the team and coaches as they look for another spot in the March Madness competition, similar to what happened in 2019. They are hoping for a better shot this year, either as the A-10 winner or an at-large team.

The Rams had a winning season last year. However, their momentum was halted when Fordham had to shut down in-person classes and activities due to the rise in COVID-19 cases across both campuses. The two-week shutdown forced an early end to the Rams’ season.

However, head coach Stephanie Gaitley is ready to face what is up ahead as she returns for her 11th year with the team. Gaitley hopes to continue her winning record at Fordham (202–112) and lead the ladies toward another successful season. Despite an abrupt end to the season, Gaitley led the team to another WNIT appearance. The Rams were still ranked 31st nationally at the end of their year.

“We have a lot of kids returning. Last year was a year of a lot of adversary for us. Our kids definitely came together,” head coach Gaitley says in reflection on the previous season. “They weren’t happy with how we finished. Some of it was out of our control. We never really regained how we had been. The kids are using that as motivation. We have unfinished business.”

With four incoming freshmen, the Rams are looking to improve on an impressive performance last year that happened despite many major setbacks. With about 12 games canceled, the Rams had to be ready to perform at any given moment, so practices and games were not lost causes. 

With the inclusion of an impressive senior from Stony Brook, guard Asiah Dingle, a new strong freshman guard, Colleen McQuillen, and a new foreign student from Australia, guard Matilda Flood, Gaitley has trust in the strong group of skilled players that she has put together. “I don’t have to worry about them. It is a very selfless group that has one agenda, and that’s to win,” Gaitley says.

Three women have returned for a graduate season with the team. These include guard Edona Thaqi, guard KendEll Heremaia and guard Chloe Chaffin. As strong additions to the team, these women will continue to be viable assets as the team gets ready to face tougher competition, such as one of the top teams in the nation, Baylor University. 

As experienced players on the team, Gaitley looked to such women to help decide which tournament the team would compete in.This decision meant that the Rams would be traveling to Cancun, Mexico, to compete in the Cancun Challenge that will take place later on this month.

In discussing how she was able to build the schedule and elect to choose so many tough teams, Gaitley says, “Hey, I’m not making that schedule unless I feel we can beat those teams. We have the personnel to win those games. I’ll put the money on the chemistry of our team.”

During media day, the women had the opportunity to discuss how they believe the season will go and what the fans can expect from them. They sat down with Fordham media interviewers who wanted to know what is up and coming for their season. 

“On and off the court, we know that we have trust in each other. Having trust in our coaching staff that they’ll do the best things for us starts with our leaders,” junior guard Anna DeWolfe said about the team chemistry. 

DeWolfe also commented on how the team would come face to face with some of the tougher teams. She said, “I just love going in as an underdog. It gives us so much motivation.” 

Without the fans in the audience, the Rams missed the loud cheers and look forward to hearing them in the upcoming games. They expect to have the support of their friends and fellow athletes. “Here at Fordham, we’re really close with other sports. It’s really fun to have [other players] at our games,” DeWolfe said. 

That was exactly the case at the team’s first exhibition game, a dominant 84-44 win against Post University in the Rose Hill Gym. The season is now set to begin against Quinnipiac University. The Rams are looking to find closure on their unfinished business, and if that means ending some seasons along the way, then so be it.