Bronx, NY—For the third straight year, the Fordham Rams women’s basketball team (21-11) under the direction of head coach Stephanie Gaitley have qualified for a post-season tournament. On Thursday night, the Rams hosted the Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) Blue Devils (19-13) at the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx.
Despite playing in different conferences, Fordham in the Atlantic-10 and CCSU in the North East Conference (NEC), the two teams met in December in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The very one-sided affair, a 72-36 victory for Fordham, was Fordham’s biggest win and the worst defeat for the Blue Devils.
The outcome of the earlier contest was not replicated on Wednesday night in the Bronx. The visitors scored the first eight points in the contest. After netting another 11 unanswered points the Blue Devils reached a game-high advantage of 14 points, 25-11, at 12:11. A scoring run of 10 straight points by the Rams cut the Fordham deficit to four at 7:44. The first half concluded with CCSU leading, 37-31.
The greatest difference in statistics from the first game between the two was the shooting from the floor by the Blue Devils. On December 9, they netted only 28.4% of their shots while sinking 13 baskets during the contest. In only the first half on Thursday, they shot an outstanding 56.7% And 17 of their shots were successful.
The visitors raised their lead to double digits again, 52-41, at 13:07 of the second half, but the Rams began an impressive comeback at that point. A 16-3 run by the Rams that culminated in one of the five 3 pointers by Hannah Missry knotted the score for the first time, at 57, in the game, at 8:43. The teams traded baskets until a jumper by Danielle Burns at 4:35 gave Fordham its first lead of the game, 63-61. The Rams retained that advantage until the final buzzer sounded.
In the December game, neither team had even one player that scored in double figures. This was not the case on Thursday as four Blue Devils and five Rams reached double digit scoring.
Amanda Harrington, CCSU, and Tiffany Ruffin, Fordham, led their teams with 18 points each. Samantha Clark, Fordham center, achieved a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Ruffin had an excellent overall game with 18 points, 9 rebounds, three assists and 5 steals. Coach Gaitley commented on the graduate student in her first year at Fordham, “Pretty impressive numbers. She gained confidence as the year progressed.”
Gaitley believed her opponent’s improvement came from several factors, “Her [Coach Beryl Piper] team was fully prepared; their best player [Tejahne Malone] was out during our first game; they’re much more relieved on the road.” She thought the players may have looked beyond CCSU because of the previous result, and stated, “We’ll use this [game] as an opportunity to grow.’
Fordham advanced to round two where they will meet the St. John’s Red Storm on Sunday afternoon in Queens. Gaitley looked forward to the New York City game that includes two teams that have been impressive in the recent past.