Fordham Senior Erin Rooney Excels in Senior Day Win over La Salle
By Howard Goldin
Prior to the Saturday afternoon women’s basketball contest between the Fordham Rams (20-6, 9-4) and the La Salle Explorers (12-13, 7-6) at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx, Fordham seniors were honored.
Four, Erin Rooney, Abigail Corning, Briana Jordan and Mary Nwachukwu, of the current successful team will not return next year. After the game, head coach Stephanie Gaitley praised their contributions individually and collectively, “It is a unique group because they are different in so many ways. All bring something unique and everyone brings something special.”
The visitors scored the first five points in what would prove to be a low scoring and poor shooting contest. Fordham’s first points were scored by Emily Tapio after six minutes and two seconds had elapsed. A basket by grad student Nwachukwu gave the Rams their first lead, 10-9, at 9:22. The second and last advantage for Fordham until less than one minute remained in the game also came on a Nwachukwu score to give the Rams a 12-11 lead. The Explorers netted 13 of the last 17 points of the first half to lead, 24-17, at halftime.
A 7-3 La Salle run to start the second half raised the lead of the visitors to double figures, 31-20, at 14:11. Although the advantage decreased as the half continued, La Salle remained in front until the closing seconds. The Explorers led, 42-37, with less than two minutes to play, but Fordham scored the final six points.
Rooney sunk a basket to cut the deficit to three, 42-39. With 50.7 seconds left, Tapio netted two free throws to cut the lead to a single point, 42-14. Rooney was at the charity stripe with only 12.6 seconds remaining in the contest. Both of her shots were netted and Fordham took the lead. Their defense clicked during the remaining seconds and Fordham won by a single point.
Rooney and Tapio were responsible for the scoring throughout the contest. Rooney, #2 in scoring in the Atlantic-10 Conference, led the Rams with 21. She needs only 31 points to reach 1,000 in her two seasons with Fordham. Thus far, she has amassed 1,555 in her four years of college play.
For the second consecutive game, Tapio achieved a double-double, with 12 points and 13 rebounds, her career high. Of the Brewster, New York junior, the coach enthused, “With Emily, you can feel the energy. You can tell Emily would refuse to lose that game.”
Only two other Rams scored during Saturday’s game, Samantha Clark with six and Nwachukwo with four.
Only three more regular season games remain for the Rams. They will visit Duquesne on February 22 and end the regular season on March 2 at Saint Joe’s. Their final game in the Bronx will take place on February 26 when they host George Mason.