Women’s Basketball Reaches Historic Heights


Erin Rooney, FCRH ’13, was key in the team’s second- round victory. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)


Fordham’s women’s basketball team rebounded in a big way from a heartbreaking Atlantic 10 (A10) Conference Championship Game loss, winning big in the first two rounds of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). Victories over Army and Boston University in the first two rounds have earned the team a game versus James Madison University (JMU) in the round of 16.

Erin Rooney, FCRH ’13, was key in the team’s second- round victory. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)
Erin Rooney, FCRH ’13, was key in the team’s second- round victory. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)

Beating Army in the first round was a feat of its own for a team that had not won a tournament playoff game in over 30 years. Fordham took out West Point with a score of 55-46, never trailing at any point in the latter three quarters of the game. Though moments of heated back-and-forth scoring occurred, it felt like the Rams were in control for much of the contest.

The winning effort was spearheaded by guard Abigail Corning, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’14, whose 15 points and 11 rebounds were not only a team-high in each category, but were also good for her fifth double-double on the season. Also scoring in the double-digits for the Rams were graduate student Marah Strickland and Arielle Collins, FCRH ’13, who scored 15 and 14 points respectively, with Collins tacking on six rebounds.

The WNIT magic continued for the Rams on Saturday as they topped the Boston University Terriers in the second round by a score of 58-44. Fordham held the lead for more than the majority of the game, with the Rams’ biggest deficit coming by a score of 6-2 very early in the first half.

Again, the Rams managed three players in double-digit scoring. Strickland and Collins again led the team, with 14 and 12 points scored respectively, while guard Erin Rooney, FCRH ’13, chipped in 12. Freshman forward Samantha Clark, FCRH ’16, added another nine points to go with her six rebounds.

In their next opponent, Fordham finds its biggest challenge. The team will be playing away for the first time in the WNIT, traveling to take on JMU’s Dukes. The Dukes have beaten both NC State and NC Agricultural and Technical State University en route to their round of 16 matchup, winning each game by at least six points. JMU was second-seeded in their conference, and finished the regular season with a record of 22-10.

The two teams share at least one striking similarity: both lost their respective conference’s championship game despite being favored to win. Make no mistake about it, however. JMU is not a broken, crestfallen team against whom a win should come easily. They have not only the home-court advantage in this matchup, but are on the same two-game playoff roll that the Rams are. The Dukes are 15-0 in postseason play when playing at home, and boast a talented guard in junior Kirby Burkholder, who has averaged just over nine rebounds per contest this season. The program is no stranger to late-round competition either, having trounced Florida State by a score of 72-45 in last year’s round of 16.

A win would be yet another massive achievement in an historic season for the women’s basketball team. The team sits at 28-6 going in to Wednesday’s playoff game, second-most all time. Their two playoff wins are the first two since the early 1980s, which, coincidentally, is the last time Fordham faced JMU, winning by a score of 87-80.

At the end of the day, JMU’s dominant playoff history is just that: history. Counting out a Rams team that has lost only one game in its last 11 contests certainly seems like a losing bet. As long as the team can keep up its cohesiveness and dominant defensive play going, Fordham has a great shot at keeping this season’s magic alive.