Women’s Basketball Bounced in First Round of WNIT

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in March 2021.

Fordham Women’s Basketball didn’t have an ideal end of the season. The team was rolling in February, having won five consecutive games when Fordham’s campus went on a two-week pause due to COVID-19. Once the Rams got back in action, their play was spotty at best, and their regular season ended with an 80-70 loss to UMass in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. 

However, Fordham wasn’t done playing this season. The Rams looked to avenge their A-10 tournament loss when they got into the WNIT to play against Delaware in the first round. 

Unfortunately for Fordham, its stay in the WNIT didn’t last much longer.

The Rams fell 77-49 to the Blue Hens last Friday and were swiftly knocked out of the tournament. Fordham earned a tough first-round draw, as Delaware has since advanced out of the Charlotte region and into the tournament semifinals, which will take place on Friday. 

Fordham kept the game close in the first quarter. Junior forward Kaitlyn Downey hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 7 with 4:30 to go, but the Blue Hens ripped off a 12-4 run to close out the quarter. Delaware missed just two shots in the final five minutes of the quarter.

The Blue Hens’ run continued into the second quarter. Despite the best efforts of senior Kendell Heremaia and sophomore Anna DeWolfe, Fordham just couldn’t cut into the lead. DeWolfe’s jumper with 4:17 to play in the first half cut the Delaware lead to seven, but the Blue Hens once again ended the quarter on a strong run, scoring 10 of the final 14 points of the quarter to take a 39-26 halftime lead. Junior guard Jasmine Dickey led the way for the Blue Hens, scoring 17 points in the first half.

In the second half, Fordham’s situation went from bad to worse. Delaware started the third quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 24-point lead early in the second half. Fordham got the game within 18 points in the third quarter but was unable to get any closer than that for the rest of the game. Ultimately, the Blue Hens demonstrated why they were the best team in the Colonial Athletic Association: shooting well from the outside, converting turnovers into points and limiting second-chance opportunities.

In the end, Fordham fell 77-49. Junior forward Meg Jonassen was the only Ram to score in double digits with 16 points. Fordham’s “big three” of DeWolfe, Downey and Heremaia combined to shoot just 10-35 from the field and score 27 points. Dickey led all players with 22 points and nine rebounds for Delaware, and junior forward Ty Battle added 14 points of her own. With the loss, Fordham’s chance of winning the WNIT came to an end, but the Rams moved on to the consolation bracket. Unfortunately, their second game didn’t go much better than the first.

Fordham took on Ohio on Saturday and a win would have sent the Rams to the final game of the consolation bracket on Monday. In this game, Fordham fell behind by double digits early and struggled to claw back. Despite the slightly faster start for their opponent, the Rams trailed by the exact same score at halftime: 39-26. Ohio junior guard Erica Johnson had 14 points in the first half.

Fordham represented itself admirably in the second half, but the Rams once again struggled to make up ground. Fordham cut the lead to eight points early in the third, and was once again within single-digits late in the third quarter. But in a span of just two minutes, the Bobcats went on a backbreaking 10-0 run to close out the quarter and go up by an insurmountable 18 points entering the final quarter.

With that, Ohio cruised to an 81-64 victory in the consolation round. Fordham’s season, which showed such promise but was ultimately disrupted by a poorly-timed pause, was over. Senior Kendell Heremaia was the star for Fordham in the loss, with 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Despite the way this season ended, there is optimism for the Rams going forward. With the NCAA granting extra eligibility to players affected by the pandemic, most of Fordham’s key pieces are expected to return to Rose Hill next season. Fordham can look forward to making another run at an A-10 title, and the Rams should be one of the preseason favorites entering the year. Hopefully, next year will be a little more “normal” than the last.

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