The Fordham women’s basketball team traveled to Davidson, N.C. this weekend with one goal in mind: avenging a conference-opening 79-64 loss to Davidson College on Dec. 21. In that game, Fordham looked lost defensively, allowing easy baskets in transition and playing uncharacteristically bad defense.
It was unlikely that we would see a repeat of that performance on Sunday. However, instead of merely compensating for the faults exhibited in the first matchup, the Rams turned the tables on the Wildcats.
Fordham routed Davidson 73-55 on Sunday behind 27 points from sophomore guard Anna DeWolfe and senior guard Kendell Heremaia’s 20 points and 11 rebounds. For her efforts, Heremaia was named the Atlantic 10’s player of the week for the second-straight week. Heremaia earned the honor last week after scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds against St. Bonaventure on Jan. 22.
Fordham got off to a slow start offensively on Sunday. Despite a strong start on the defensive end, the Rams shot just 3-14 in the first quarter. Davidson carried a 12-11 lead into the second quarter after a layup by sophomore forward Adelaide Fuller beat the buzzer at the end of the first. This would be Davidson’s last lead of the game.
Fordham started the second quarter on an 8-0 run behind baskets from DeWolfe, Heremaia and junior forward Kaitlyn Downey. Davidson cut the deficit to four after Wildcats coach Gayle Fulks called a timeout, but Fordham only expanded the lead from there. Junior forward Meg Jonassen ended the half with a made jumper off the backboard, after a possession in which Fordham nearly turned it over multiple times. That play made the score 28-20 at the half.
In the final 20 minutes, DeWolfe and Heremaia took over the game, and Fordham’s offense was nearly unstoppable.
Fordham outscored Davidson 23-13 in the third quarter, on the strength of a 7-13 performance from the field. Two of the Rams’ three makes from beyond the arc came from senior guard Katie McLoughlin, who scored on back-to-back possessions about halfway through the quarter. Fordham took an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter, and despite a respectable Davidson finish, the Rams came away with an 18-point win.
The victory did not come without its own fireworks, however. In a late flourish, DeWolfe scored the Rams’ final 10 points of the game to give her 27 points on the day. Heremaia got to 20 points on the strength of a difficult step-back three with around five minutes to go. Davidson finished the game on an 8-2 run, but the late comeback occurred well after the outcome had been decided.
The biggest improvement for Fordham from the first Davidson matchup was the team’s defense. Davidson shot 28-52 (54%) from the field in that game, but the Rams held the Wildcats to just 20-62 (32%) this time around. More shots fell for the Rams in this matchup as well, but for a program that prides itself on tough defense under head coach Stephanie Gaitley, Sunday’s performance was a welcome sight.
This is the third straight victory for the Rams. Despite losing out on a couple of matchups due to COVID-19 protocols with other teams, Fordham has not missed a beat since an early-January loss to the University of Massachusetts.
In addition, the performances of DeWolfe and Heremaia were singularly outstanding. Heremaia, in earning another player of the week award from the A-10, showed how she is capable of taking over a game at any given time. In addition to scoring and rebounding, she also has shown herself adept at facilitating offense for her teammates, as she doled out four assists. With Sunday’s performance — which also included three steals — Heremaia became the seventh player in program history to earn 800 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 steals in her distinguished career.
As for DeWolfe, she continues to make a compelling case for A-10 Player of the Year. Averaging 23.2 points per game, DeWolfe eclipses the conference’s second-leading scorer — UMass’ Sam Breen — by nearly six points per game. If she were to continue on this pace and win the award, DeWolfe would be the second straight Ram to win the A-10’s top honor, after Bryson Cavanaugh took home the hardware last year.
Fordham’s next two games are both in Richmond, Va. The Rams take on the University of Richmond at 5 p.m. on Friday. On Sunday, the team pays a noon visit to Virginia Commonwealth University. Both opponents are currently a half-game ahead of Fordham in the Atlantic 10 standings.