Bronx, NY—Two of the most successful women’s basketball teams in the metropolitan area during the 2013-14 season, the Iona Gaels (1-0) and the Fordham Rams (0-1), met in their season opener at the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx on Friday morning.
The Rams won 25 games last year and were the 2013-14 Atlantic-10 champs for the first time. In their second visit to the NCAA National Tournament they were eliminated by one point to 24th ranked California.
Iona was a winner of 26 games last season and was a post-season entry in the WNIT. Iona’s first year coach, Billi Godsey was the was the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) Coach of the Year.
The difference between the teams in Friday’s game was the departure of two players, Erin Rooney and Abigail Corning, from the Rams and the return of two players to the Gaels, Damika Martinez and Joy Adams. Rooney (17.5) and Corning (12.4) accounted for 29.9 of the team’s 66.9 points per game.
The visiting Gaels took an early lead, 13-2 at 15:10, and raised the advantage to 20 points, 31-11, at 9:13. Martinez, the nation’s leading returning scorer netted 18 and Adams, the second leading returning rebounder in the nation, scored 8. The Iona lead fluctuated between 17 and 20 points throughout the remainder of the first half, which ended with Iona ahead by a score of 42-24.
Martinez (20) and Adams (13) were the only double digit scorers in the first half. After the contest, Fordham’s experienced coach, Stephanie Gaitley, spoke of her team’s failure to stop the biggest weapons of Iona, “We spent most of the week trying to take those two out. We didn’t execute our defense.”
Iona demonstrated two distinct area of superiority in the first half that contributed to the large scoring disparity. The Gaels took advantage of the 12 Fordham turnovers by scoring 17 points off them while only allowing 3 points off their 8 turnovers. The visitors scored 12 on fast breaks while Fordham did not use speed effectively.
Seven straight points by Fordham early in the second half cut the Iona lead to its lowest point, 49-37, at 13:40. A 17-3 scoring run by Iona followed to raise their lead to a game-high 26, 66-40, with 6:09 remaining.
Martinez, the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, led scoring with 27. She had a versatile performance by also grabbing seven boards and stealing the ball four times. Adams achieved a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Fordham’s only scorer with more than six points was senior Emily Tapio, who netted 19 on 9 of 16 shooting from the floor. The senior was one of only two of last year’s starters who played in the opener. Rooney and Corning, last year’s starting backcourt have graduated and sophomore Hannah Missry, after undergoing surgery in the off-season, is currently day to day.
Tapio, responded to a question of whether she feels etxra pressure because of the absence of her former teammates, “Definitely. We lost such players and leaders. I just try to help in any way I can.” In addition to her 19 points, Tapio had five rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two assists. Her coach enthused, “Emikly’s a fighter and a great leader.”