Fordham got a quick and emphatic reminder that its conference championship season has come and gone along with key players that made it happen.
The Rams women’s basketball team’s inexperience showed early and often in a 72-51 season opening loss to Iona College last Friday afternoon at Rose Hill. Fordham committed 12 of its 19 turnovers in the first half and watched Iona score 26 points on giveaways during the contest. The players and coaches see it as a chance for an early wake up call about how much better they need to take care of the ball. Turnovers have been prevalent in practice.
“I’m glad this happened the first game and not midway through the season,” senior forward Emily Tapio said. “It’s going to take a lot of patience. This is really good wake up call.”
What bothered Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley even more than the turnovers was how it affected them mentally. The Rams’ early struggles on offense dealing with Iona’s multiple defensive looks caused them to lose focus on defense.
She said they worked all week on making it tough for Gaels stars Damika Martinez and Joy Adams to touch the ball and get good looks, but that didn’t happen on Friday afternoon. Martinez scored 20 of her 27 points in the first half and grabbed seven rebounds and Adams tallied 23 points and 12 boards. Iona led by as many as 26 late in the second half.
“When you let them do what they want to do there is a breakdown,” Gaitley said. “They did whatever they wanted. We let our ineptness on offense affect our focus and attention on defense”
Fordham appeared to refocus in the second half. It forced turnovers of its own to spark a quick 7-0 run that cut the Gales lead to 49-37 on a 3-pointer from Asnate Fomina with 13:40 to play in the game. Two straight turnovers from Tapio and a lack of rebounding led to consecutive baskets from former South Shore standout Aurellia Cammock and Iona never looked back. Tapio, who led the Rams with 19 points and five rebounds, knows she has to be better.
“We are going to face those situations,” she said. “Learning from them every single time is what is really going to help us.”
The veterans and Gaitley understand there will need to be some measure of patience needed with this group, which was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10. It lost its top two scorers in Abigail Corning and Erin Rooney from a club that won the conference title and reach the NCAA tournament a year ago. Sophomore guard Hannah Missry is still day to day after foot surgery in the offseason.
Tapio and fellow center Samantha Clarke are back , but the Rams started freshman forward G’mrice Davis, sophomore Alina Gjerkes and graduate student Tiffany Ruffin around them. Losing to Iona show shows Fordham exactly how much better it need to be.
“It’s a marathon not a sprint,” Gaitley said. “It’s hard to lose your opener at home, but maybe it is a great wake up call for us.”