Gaitley's 500th Win Punches Fordham's Ticket to Brooklyn
March 10, 2013
PHILADELPHIA - Leading by one at the half, the Rams knew they would have to start hitting from deep to put away a tough Temple team and give Coach Stephanie Gaitley her 500th career win. In the second stanza, the Rams did just that, draining seven out of their 13 attempts from downtown to top the Owls, 66-55, in Hagan Arena.
With the win, Fordham advances to the championship game of the Atlantic 10 tournament next Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against the Saint Joseph's Hawks.
Coach Gaitley's 500th win was Fordham's 24th of the year, as the Rams moved to 24-7.
Erin Rooney had a huge performance for the Rams, netting 19 points and pulling down 11 boards for the double-double. In addition to six assists, Rooney scored 13 points in the span of eight minutes in the second half to help Fordham jump out to a lead that proved insurmountable.
Rooney led four Fordham scorers in double figures. Arielle Collins hit four threes on the game, including two crucial ones down the stretch, for 16 points.
Abigail Corning added eight points and six boards, three of which came on the offensive glass.
Both teams came out hot in the opening seconds of the game, as Victoria Macaulay started off the scoring just ten ticks into the contest and Clark answered back with a layup from Rooney 15 seconds later.
Temple opened a bit of a lead, taking a 7-4 lead on a Tyonna Williams three-pointer with just over 15 minutes to go.
The teams traded points and Temple had a 9-6 lead after a Macaulay jumper with 14 minutes on the clock, but Rooney scored four in a row for the Rams as they took a 10-9 lead less than a minute later.
After Rooney scored four in a row, Williams did the same for Temple, giving the Owls a 13-10 advantage at the second media timeout with 10:54 left in the half. Temple continued to streak, scoring six more and extending its lead to nine, 19-10, by the 9:30 mark.
Fordham scored four in a row on jumpers from Rooney and Corning to narrow the deficit to five, but Temple converted on a layup to go back up seven, 21-14, with eight minutes to go until the break.
Down seven, a trio of veterans came up big for the Rams. Strickland and Collins hit from downtown and Corning drained a mid-range jumper on an 8-2 Fordham run, pulling the Rams within one, 23-22, at the 4:25 mark of the first half.
Temple extended the lead back to four on three free throws from Rateska Brown, but the Rams answered back again. Strickland nailed a 15-footer and Collins sank a three from the left wing to give Fordham its first lead since the 13:27 mark of the half, 27-26, with 1:15 left in the half.
The Owls started the scoring in the second half, as Macaulay registered the first four points of the period to put Temple up three, 30-27, with just a shade under 16 minutes to go.
Facing a three point deficit, Rooney sparked a 9-2 Rams run to put Fordham up by four, 36-32, with just under 14 left in the half. The Christchurch, New Zealand, native started it with two jumpers, and after Collins made a nifty little floater through the lane, Rooney drained her first three of the game from the right wing.
After a Brown three-pointer narrowed the lead to one on the next possession, Clark came down and made her first trey of the game for the Rams, putting Fordham back up four, 39-35, with 13 minutes left.
Natasha Thames narrowed the Fordham lead on a put back, but Clark moved the margin to five, 42-37, after another three-pointer on the next play.
The Rams stayed hot from deep, as Rooney and Clark nailed back-to-back threes before Corning slashed through the lane and laid it in, giving the Rams a 50-39 lead and capping an 11-2 run.
The Owls scored six in a row from there, narrowing the Fordham lead to five, 50-45, with seven and a half minutes on the clock. Rooney, however, was having no part of that. She drove hard to the bucket, absorbed the contact and sank the free throw for three the old fashioned way and put Fordham back up eight, 53-45, with 7:07 to go.
Brown hit her third three of the game for Temple a minute and a half later to get the deficit back down to five, but Collins responded with her third trifecta of the evening, extending the advantage back to eight, 56-48.
Temple fought hard the rest of the way, but Fordham always had an answer. Strickland responded to a Macaulay bucket with a runner through the lane and Collins nailed another three to put Fordham up 61-50 with just over two minutes left in the game.
Strickland made five free throws down the stretch, and the Rams secured their trip to Brooklyn with a 66-55 victory.
"I'm really, to be honest, speechless because I'm so filled with emotions, just because I'm really so happy for the kids," Gaitley said after the game. "They've worked so hard. They've been such an unselfish group. It's really just my pleasure to coach them."
Saturday's game will be televised live on ESPN U.