Rams Lose Heartbreaker in A-10 Final
March 16, 2013
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - When a reporter recently asked Coach Stephanie Gaitley to describe her team, she responded without hesitation. "Magic," Gaitley said. Unfortunately for the Rams, the magic came up just short of an automatic NCAA berth, as Fordham fell to Saint Joseph's, 47-46, in the Atlantic 10 Championship Game in the Barclays Center on Saturday night.
Abigail Corning had 12 points, including two clutch threes near the end of the game, and seven rebounds on the night.
Fordham came out of the gate on fire, jumping out to a 12-0 lead over the opening five and a half minutes of the contest. Strickland sank a pair of threes and Corning added four points on the run, which saw the Fordham defense cause 12 Saint Joe's misses to start the action. The Hawks didn't score their first point until nearly six minutes into the game and didn't make their first field goal until the 12:56 mark of the half.
Saint Joe's scored five in a row to cut into the Fordham lead, but Charlotte Stoddart nailed a pretty little step-back jumper to push the Rams back ahead by nine, 14-5, with just under 12 minutes to go in the half.
The Hawks continued to work their way back into it, outscoring the Rams 7-2 over the next five minutes to pull within four, 16-12, before Strickland sank a free throw to put Fordham back up five.
Arielle Collins, one of the heroes of Fordham's play in Philly last weekend, sank her first three-pointer of the game to put the Rams back up eight, 20-12, with just over five minutes to go in the half.
The two teams traded baskets over the remainder of the half, with Rooney and Samantha Clark hitting shots for the Rams.
Fordham entered the locker room with a 24-16 lead. Strickland led the way with nine points in the opening stanza, while Clark and Corning each had four.
Saint Joe's scored the second half's first four points, but the Rams answered back. Rooney, Strickland and Corning scored on a 6-2 Fordham run to put the Rams back up eight, 30-22 with 16:48 to go.
Saint Joe's, however, began to look a lot more like the team that beat Dayton in the A-10 semis. The Hawks rattled off 12 in a row from there, as Mireia Vila hit a three to put Saint Joe's up four, 34-30, at the 10:42 mark of the second half.
Rooney put Fordham back on the board with a jumper on the next possession, and Collins tied it up at 34 with a runner over two minutes later.
Cloud hit again for Saint Joe's to put the Hawks back up by a pair, and a free throw a minute later extended the lead to three.
Strickland narrowed the deficit to one with a pair of free throws with just over five minutes to go, but Ashley Prim connected on a three to put the Hawks back up four, 40-36.
The next time down, it was Strickland again, as the graduate student nailed a three from the right wing to pull Fordham back within one, 40-39, with just under four minutes on the clock.
After an offensive foul on Saint Joe's gave Fordham the ball back and Corning drained an open looked from three, giving Fordham a 42-40 lead, with 3:09 to go.
Saint Joe's answered back right away, as Erin Shields hit from downtown and Ilza Gotfrida sank a foul line jumper to put the Hawks up three, 45-42, with two and a half left on the clock.
After a Fordham timeout, it was Corning again, as the Wethersfield, Conn., native hit another three to tie the game at 45 with just over two minutes to go.
Van Grinsven then hit a pair of free throws with 1:47 on the clock, putting Saint Joe's back ahead by two.
After over a minute without a change in the score, a Saint Joe's foul sent Rooney to the line for a pair. She made the first, but missed the second. On the ensuing scramble for the rebound, the ball deflected out of bounds off Saint Joe's, giving Fordham the ball down one with 29.5 ticks left on the clock.
The Rams held the ball for over 20 seconds, when official Joe Vaszily called an off-ball offensive foul on Clark with just six seconds left on the clock.
Two seconds ticked off the clock before the Rams could foul. Van Grinsven missed both her free throws, but a three-quarter court heave by Strickland fell short, and the Hawks emerged with a 47-46 victory.
Saturday was only Fordham's third loss in their last 20 games, and they fell to 24-8 on the year.