March 27, 2013

JAMES MADISON 77, FORDHAM 61

HARRISONBURG, VA. -
The best season of Fordham women's basketball in over three decades has come to an end. After winning the team's first postseason games since 1979, the Rams fell in the WNIT Round of 16, losing 77-61 to James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va.

The Rams' final record of 26-9 marks the second-highest win total in school history and the Rams' first winning record in 19 years.

Graduate student Marah Strickland left it all on the floor in the final game of her collegiate career. She scored 24 points for the Rams, while Erin Rooney added 15 and Abigail Corning chipped in 13.

In addition to Wednesday being Strickland's final game, the loss also marked the final contest for seniors Arielle Collins, Charlotte Stoddart and Ranait Griff.

After relatively low-scoring victories in their first two games of the WNIT, the first few minutes of Wednesday's game were highly unlike anything like Fordham had seen in its previous two contests. Following a Rooney three-pointer to put the Rams up 5-4 just under two minutes into the action, JMU uncorked an 11-2 run highlighted by three shots from downtown to take a 15-7 lead with just over 15 minutes to go in the opening half.

Strickland stopped the bleeding with a three-point play 20 seconds later to make it 15-10, and the Rams and Dukes traded buckets for a while after that.

JMU finally started to miss some shots after starting the game 5-7 from the floor, and the Rams pulled within three, 19-16, on an Abigail Corning jumper from just inside the three-point arc with 11:45 on the clock.

But the rims got awfully friendly for the Dukes again, as JMU rattled off 10 in a row over the course of four minutes to pull ahead 13, 29-16, with 6:49 left in the first half.

The Rams started to claw their way back following the JMU run, as five points from Strickland helped pull Fordham within nine, 34-25, with three and a half minutes to go.

Fordham continued to fight, narrowing the JMU lead to four, 36-32 after another three from Strickland, but the Dukes bumped the lead back to six before the break.

After allowing just 36 points combined in the first half against Boston University and Army, Fordham entered the intermission trailing the Dukes by a score of 38-32. Strickland tallied 15 in the first half to lead all scorers, while Rooney chipped in 11.

Both teams came out of the locker room ready to shoot, but it was Strickland again for the Rams in the early going of the half. The Mt. Airy, Md., native scored five of her team's first seven points, including a three that narrowed the deficit to four, 43-39, with 17:41 left on the clock.

With the Dukes' lead at just four points, Kirby Burkholder hit a pair of threes to help push the JMU advantage to eight, 49-41, at the 15:41 mark of the half.

After two free throws from Corning narrowed the lead back to six, Burkholder nailed from deep again and then hit a put-back layup, moving the Dukes' lead to 11, 54-43, with 13:43 to go in the half.

Samantha Clark hit a layup to pull the Rams a little closer, but JMU uncorked a 13-0 run after that, giving the Dukes a 67-45 lead with eight and a half minutes left.

The Rams chipped the lead down to 16 over the game's closing minutes, but the Dukes came out on top with a 77-61 victory.

FLORIDA 67, CHARLOTTE 65

CHARLOTTE -- Visiting Florida held off Charlotte, 67-65, Wednesday night in the third round of the 2013 WNIT.  Charlotte ends its season with a 26-6 record, the second-best mark in school history.   Florida improves to 21-14 and will play James Madison in the next round. 

Jennifer Hailey led Charlotte with 19 points, while Amanda Dowe had 15 points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds.    Hillary Sigmon and Jai Forney had 13 and 11 points, respectively for the 49ers. 

Florida was paced by 15 points from Jaterra Bonds.   Jennifer George had 14 points and Sydney Moss chipped in with 10 for the Gators.