by PETE JANNY, Sports & Managing Editor
The Manhattan College women’s basketball team (3-5) squared off with the Fordham Rams (4-5) on Tuesday night, looking to avenge last year’s loss at Rose Hill. Playing host for this game, Manhattan was hoping to win back-to-back games for the first time this season after beating Dartmouth last Sunday at Draddy Gymnasium.
Despite putting forth their best effort, Manhattan was unable to overcome lethargic first and fourth quarter performances, eventually losing 51-45.
There was very little to cheer about for the Manhattan fans as the team shot 2-for-16 (12.5%) in the first quarter to dig themselves in a 15-4 hole heading into the second quarter. The Rams’ defense was particularly strong over these first ten minutes of the game, forcing Manhattan to misfire on their first twelve shots of the game.
Manhattan’s first basket of the night came with 2:42 left in the first quarter when senior guard Gabby Cajou swooped to the hoop for two to make the score 8-2.
What stood out from Fordham’s early control of the game was junior Bre Cavanaugh’s offensive aggressiveness.
Her first of three three-pointers on the night came with 2:31 left in the first quarter that made the score 11-2. Cavanaugh, Fordham’s leading scorer the past two seasons, was a reliable source of offense the whole night. According to Manhattan head coach Heather Vulin, Cavanaugh not only boasts elite talent, but also impressive confidence.
“Because she’s a high-volume shooter, she thinks every shot is going in,” Vulin said of Cavanaugh, whose college career began at the University of California, Berkeley. “She plays with so much confidence.”
Cavanaugh’s hot start would persist with her hitting another three-pointer on Fordham’s very next possession to give her team a 14-2 lead. Manhattan ended this 6-0 run by Fordham when senior Pam Miceus buried a mid-range jumper at 1:43 to make the score 15-4. Although Manhattan had no luck shooting in the first quarter, the team was certainly lucky to be down as much as they were considering Fordham missed a plethora of layups themselves in the process.
The second quarter had little resemblance to the first with Manhattan outshooting the Rams 42.9 percent to 21.1 percent. Manhattan would outscore their rival 14-9 for the quarter.
After going down 18-5, the Jaspers unleashed a 9-0 run that injected some life into the crowd. The outburst started with freshman Emily LaPointe securing her first points of the night on a mid-range jumper at 7:31 of the second quarter. The next four minutes consisted of a Courtney Warley three-point play, an Lynette Tait layup, and a Sydney Watkins’ three-pointer that cut the deficit to 18-14. Both teams would trade baskets over the final three and a half minutes of play, giving Fordham a modest 24-18 lead at the half.
Although they remained inconsistent with their execution, Manhattan deserves some credit for the way they continued to fight throughout the second half.
LaPointe’s strong performance continued with the freshman guard opening up the scoring with a three-pointer nine seconds into the third quarter that brought Manhattan to within three for the first time. After the game, Vulin reinforced the trust she has in her freshman point guard.
“Emily is going to be an elite player in the MAAC,” Vulin said.
After a three-pointer from Fordham’s Kaitlyn Downey gave the Rams some breathing room at 30-23, Manhattan stormed right back with an 8-2 run. By the time senior Julie Hoier’s three-point shot flushed through the net at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter, Manhattan was down by only one at 32-31. The home team would briefly snatch their first lead of the night at 36-35 at the 1:26 mark before Fordham responded with three consecutive free throws to enter the fourth quarter up 38-36.
After shooting a respectable 7-for-17 (41.2%) in the third quarter, Manhattan went cold at an inopportune time, shooting 2-for-15 (13.3%) over the final ten minutes of play. Even worse, Manhattan failed to capitalize on Fordham’s underwhelming 26.7 percent shooting display in the fourth quarter. The calling card of both teams came out during this stretch with both sides demonstrating their characteristic toughness on defense that made things hard for one another.
Nevertheless, Manhattan still managed to stay as close as two back with 1:28 left in regulation when Warley stole the ball away from Fordham’s Sarah Karpell and then finished her layup despite getting fouled. However, Warley was unable to complete the three-point play at the free throw line. Then, Fordham’s Kendell Heremia converted a layup at 1:04 that upped the lead to four and effectively clinched the win. The last minute proved immaterial with Manhattan’s intentional fouling strategy proving futile.
Cavanaugh’s 21 points and 12 rebounds earned her MVP honors for the second straight year in this rivalry series. Freshman Anna DeWolfe added 13 points for the Rams.
LaPointe led the way for the home team, scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds. Warley, the reigning defensive player of the year in the MAAC, paced Manhattan in rebounds with 10.
The rebounding battle was inexplicably dominated by the visitors with the Rams out-rebounding Manhattan 47-31. If there was anything in particular that Vulin took away from this game, it’s that her team needs to do a better job on the boards.
“The biggest thing we need to work on is rebounding,” Vulin said. “I thought we had a mismatch in terms of size and I don’t think we effectively recognized the mismatches.”
Manhattan’s non-conference schedule will continue when the team hosts Army (3-5) on Friday, December 13th at 7 PM.