Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship Preview
What: #3 Fordham (24-7, 12-2, 8 game winning streak) v. #4 Saint Joseph’s (22-8, 11-3, 2 game winning streak)
Where: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, New York)
When: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 7:00pm tipoff
How to Follow: Listen HERE beginning with an extended One on One Pregame Report. The broadcast begins around 6:15pm. The pregame show will feature interviews with Fordham athletic director Dave Roach and Fordham Hall of Famer Anne Gregory O’Connell.
- The championship game was previewed in the most recent edition of the Stephanie Gaitley Show on WFUVSports.org with WFUV’s own Chris Marasco.
- This week, the New York Times’ Dan Duggan wrote a feature on Fordham guard Erin Rooney.
- Marah Strickland’s journey to Fordham was profiled by the Baltimore Sun’s Josh Vitale.
- Jane McManus of ESPNW.com wrote about Fordham’s revival under second year head coach Stephanie Gaitley.
The Series: Saint Joseph's holds a 34-4 advantage in the all-time series. The Hawks ended the Rams' season last year by way of a 63-52 win in the first round of the conference tournament at Hagan Arena. Fordham exacted revenge in the regular season this year.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Fordham Rams: Erin Rooney (rJR guard, Christchurch, New Zealand), Arielle Collins (SR guard, Hamilton, New Jersey), Abigail Corning (JR guard, Wethersfield, Connecticut), Marah Strickland (Grad Student forward, Mt. Airy, Maryland), Samantha Clark (FR forward, Neptune, New Jersey). The Rams are coached by Stephanie V. Gaitley (500-295 in 27 years, 36-25 in 2 campaigns at Fordham).
Saint Joseph’s Hawks: Erin Shields (JR guard, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania), Natasha Cloud (rSO guard, Broomall, Pennsylvania), Ashley Prim (SR guard, Ansonia, Connecticut), Ashley Robinson (JR forward, Warrington, Pennsylvania), Chatilla van Grinsven (rSR forward, Helmond, Netherlands). The Hawks are coached by Cindy Griffin (270-188 in 16 seasons, 222-155 in 13 years at Saint Joseph’s)
The Road to the Title Game:
Fordham Rams: After a first round bye, the Rams outdueled 11th seeded Saint Louis for the second time in the campaign, defeating the Billikans, 65-48 at Saint Joseph’s. Marah Strickland proved to be the star offensively, dropping 22 points to go with 8 rebounds. Erin Rooney had 6 assists and Arielle Collins had 5, combining for just two turnovers. The win moved Fordham to the semifinal round of the A10 tournament for the first time.
Hagan Arena felt like home again in the next round against Philadelphia’s own Temple University. Erin Rooney’s 19 points and six assists, and 16 points from Arielle Collins, including a 4-for-9 performance from beyond the arc, pushed Fordham into the finals. Sam Clark drilled all three of her long range buckets in the second half of the 66-55 victory. The win was the 500th in the storied coaching career of Stephanie V. Gaitley, the most of any active coach in the A10.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks: By virtue of a fourth place finish in regular season play, the Hawks earned a first round bye. The Hawks faced a much more difficult route to the finals. A second round contest with Duquesne resulted in a resounding 13 point victory at Hagan Arena. The Dukes got a 20 point effort from Wumi Agunbiade, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a double-double by Chatilla van Grinsven and a game high 21 from Erin Shields. The win came despite 16 turnovers by the Hawks, compared to just 9 by the fifth seeded Duquesne.
The semifinal was a rematch of the final game of the regular season. After falling at #11/#11 Dayton by six in the final weekend of the season, the Hawks would not be denied on their home floor. Chatilla van Grinsven scored a game high 19 points in another double-double, while helping force 16 Flyer turnovers. A plus-10 rebounding margin and a plus-4 turnover margin helped turn the tide, handing Dayton their second loss of the season. The 61-54 win pushes Dayton into the at-large conversation for the NCAA Tournament, and the Hawks were Brooklyn-bound.
The Last Time:
Saint Joseph’s visited the Rose Hill Gym on February 24th and left with a 70-63 overtime loss. The Hawks were led by first team all-Atlantic 10 forward Chatilla van Grinsven, who scored 26 points. Fordham saw forward Marah Strickland do the heavy lifting with a career high 31 points and 6 rebounds.
A 33-24 Fordham advantage at the break was cut to three midway through the half. The Hawks held the ball with a chance to win and less than ten seconds to go, but a defensive stop by the Rams gave Strickland a last second half court heave that touched both ends of the iron before rimming out.
A quick start to the overtime period gave the Rams a chance to seal the deal at the free throw line, which they had been unable to do in the closing minute of the second half. Strickland’s clutch free throws down the stretch sealed the Fordham win, their 20th of the season. Erin Rooney was big with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, while Sam Clark added 11 rebounds and 10 points.
Van Grinsven scored her 1,000th career point in the loss.
What's On the Line:
The winner of the Atlantic 10 Championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Should Fordham win, they would be placed into the bracket on Selection Monday, WFUVSports.org would have live coverage with the team as the bracket is announced. If Saint Joseph's wins, Fordham would hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament or the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). The WNIT makes its bracket available after the NCAA announces its field.
Fordham has never won an Atlantic Ten Championship, and this is their first appearence in the title game.
Fordham Head Coach Stephanie Gaitley coached Saint Joseph's Head Coach Cindy Griffin at Saint Joe's... 196 of Coach Gaitley's 500 career victories came as head coach at Saint Joseph's... The game will be televised live by ESPNU... Five teams in the Atlantic 10 are in the RPI Top 100 -- Dayton (13, eliminated by Saint Joseph's), Duquesne (36, elimated by Saint Josephs), Saint Joseph's (38), Charlottes (38, eliminated by Temple), and Fordham (62)... Erin Rooney has had 26 double digit scoring games this season, Marah Strickland has 25 such games...
For live updates on twitter, follow @MikeWattsOnAir, @WFUVSports, or @FordhamRams.