Women’s Basketball Takes on Cancun After a Big Win Against Michigan State

Fordham Women’s Basketball secured the landmark nonconference victory it needed against Michigan State before a valiant effort at the Cancun Challenge to conclude two weeks of significant competition with more set to come.


Fordham pulled off the upset against Michigan State in front of its home fans. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

The Big Ten and the Atlantic 10 are by no means on the same level. If you watch college basketball, whether men’s or women’s, it is easy to see that there are major differences between mid-major conferences and those in the power five that generate the amount of money that the Big Ten does. However, no matter what the numbers say, the game is still played on the floor. Nov. 21’s contest between Fordham and Michigan State University was a reason why, as the Rams defeated the Spartans 71–68 for the landmark victory early coach Gaitley was looking for.

It was a hard fought battle between two teams already proving much in the season’s earlygoing with just three points being the difference. Down at the half by only two points despite a scorching shooting performance from the Spartans, the Rams came back after halftime and rallied for a 21–9 push, taking over the lead. Michigan State climbed back in the end but could not topple Fordham, led by 24 points each from junior Anna DeWolfe and Kaitlyn Downey and double figures from Asiah Dingle on a difficult shooting night.

The outcome ultimately came down to the Rams’ second chance opportunities. Fordham grabbed more rebounds than Michigan State, 32 compared to the Spartans 29, with 15 of them coming offensively. As a result, the Rams had multiple second chance opportunities that led to 16 assists and 28 makes on those assists. 

After this marquee victory, Fordham packed its bags and traveled to Cancun, Mexico where they spent their holiday season playing three challenging teams in an even number of days.

Fordham rode tremendous energy into the Cancun Challenge, a tournament the players wanted to enter, facing another nationally ranked team. The trip included an all-inclusive stay at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya which is located right near Cancun, Mexico. The convention’s ballroom was transformed into an arena for fans to view each of the tournament’s games, which began on Thanksgiving day, Nov. 25.

Fordham first faced Baylor University, a team ranked as #6 and #8 nationally in two separate polls. Fordham was up for the task too, holding the Bears to just 20 points and owning the lead after the first half of play.

However, Baylor flipped the script to start the second half, coming out of the locker room with a resounding 24 points while the Rams could only score 10 points during the third quarter.

Graduate student Kendell Heremaia and DeWolfe did what they could to fend off the Bears but another two dozen points in the final frame proved too much to overcome. Heremaia had a total of 14 points to pair with six rebounds. DeWolfe had 10 points throughout the game with a season-high seven rebounds. Fordham’s ability to remain competitive on a poor shooting night against a top tier opponent gave them reason to look toward their next game.

That next game came Friday against the University of Houston and proved to tell a different story than the one the Rams had previously played. Fordham brushed aside the loss and secured the 14-point win against the Cougars, another tough competitor, 67–53

DeWolfe played a major part in this win with 18 points, two assists and two steals, as she begins to find her place alongside Dingle in the backcourt, who stood out with 15 points and ten rebounds. Heremaia matched with 11 points, ten rebounds and double double of her own.

Defensively, the Rams only allowed the Cougars to have 32.8% success from the field. Conversely, Houston could not stop a blazing Fordham offense that continued to find their rhythm on the other end of the court. Collectively, the Rams beat another team projected to be a top finisher in its conference, with Houston pegged third in the American Conference preseason poll.

The last day of play featured an early game against another power five opponent, the Arizona State University Sun Devils.

Fordham started strong in what was an event contest at 14 points apiece after one. However, it did not hit double digits again until the fourth quarter due to some more shooting struggles. Arizona State looked to have a stronghold over the game by the end of the second quarter, with a 58-43 defeat ending Fordham’s stay at the Cancun Challenge.

DeWolfe continued her scoring stretch from the previous game days, as she had 20 points against the Sun Devils, 10 in each half. Dingle again factored into all of the game’s facets with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. 

The Rams still maintain their winning record of 4–3 after two big wins in two weeks of impressive competition and many more of a way. There is a lot to look forward to as the Rams’ next game is set to take place against Stony Brook University in the Rose Hill Gym this Thursday at 7 p.m.