Monday, February 27, 2017

Fordham 62, Davidson 54: Tempo-Free Recap

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

BRONX, NY - Higher seed Fordham hosted Davidson in an opening round Atlantic 10 Tournament game. The meeting at Rose Hill Gym ironically placed the fifth-seeded Rams against a No. 12 seed who defeated them 52-51 at Davidson just a dozen days earlier.  

Davidson started strong and presented a challenge. In the end, Fordham rode the momentum of a strong second half start to defeat the Wildcats, 62-54. The victory improved Fordham to 21-10, while Davidson closes their campaign at 6-23. Fordham will move on to face Saint Louis in an A-10 quarterfinal Friday afternoon in Richmond.

First five possessions
Davidson: Missed FG, FG, missed FGA, two free throws, FG
Fordham: Missed FG, missed FG, missed FGA, FG, turnover

The 6-2 Davidson lead at the 6:19 mark helped the Wildcats establish a half court tempo and get the good start they needed playing on the road.

Davidson began in a man defense and switched to zone following the first quarter media timeout. Early on, it is apparent that the battle of the boards will be a key factor. Fordham has had success on the offensive glass, extending several possessions. Davidson quickly goes back to a man defense soon after, as they are having difficulty matching up with Fordham’s G’mrice Davis inside. Fordham has their own concerns as Justine Lyon, a 22-point scorer in the team’s other meeting, is getting free and scoring off guard isolations. Davidson threatened to get some separation, but Fordham answered with a few threes late in the half. At the break, the Rams trailed 31-29 and given the first half, they are fortunate it is a two-possession contest.

In the first four minutes of the second half, the Rams were a different team, employing an 11-0 run to open a 40-31 lead. Kate Kreslina buried two threes and Hannah Missry added one. The offensive surge carried over to the defensive end as Davidson became unrattled. The Wildcats struggled to run their offense, were guilty of a shot clock violation and threw the ball away several times in those first four minutes. Arguably, that stretch was a game-changer. The remainder of the third quarter was relatively even, as Davidson settled down after going almost five minutes without scoring. Fordham took a 46-37 lead into the final quarter. Obviously, those opening four minutes after halftime proved to be huge.

Fordham went into an early fourth quarter scoring drought and entering the stretch, was in a two-possession game. Davidson started to pick up in three-quarter court, but the Rams are not bothered by pressure. They did, however, struggle in executing half court offense. Luckily, Danielle Burns came up big with two finishes inside and on the free throw line to give Fordham  breathing room. Burns’ field goal is the Rams’ only one for the fourth quarter. Defense and free throw shooting, especially in the final minutes, were instrumental in closing out the victory.

Possessions: Davidson 63, Fordham 64
Offensive efficiency: Davidson 86, Fordham 97

Four Factors:
Effective field goal percentage: Davidson 44, Fordham 39
Free throw rate: Davidson 26, Fordham 41
Offensive rebound percentage: Davidson 19, Fordham 32
Turnover rate: Davidson 19, Fordham 14

Leading scorers/effectiveness factors:
Davidson: Mackenzie Latt 15 points, EF 26
Fordham: G’Mrice Davis 17 points, EF 32

What Davidson did well: Get off to a good start. The first few possessions were important, and the Wildcats carried that momentum through the first half.

What Fordham did well: Hit the boards. In raw numbers, Fordham pulled down 14 offensive rebounds to just six for Davidson. Many of those extended possessions, ending in scores for the Rams.

Davidson led 18-16 on points in the paint. Fordham enjoyed a significant 14-5 edge in second chance points. Davis pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds, six on the offensive end.

Ball Control Index:
Davidson: 1.58
Fordham: 1.67

Three keys:
1) Fordham weathered Davidson’s fast start and made the defensive adjustments at halftime.
2) The outstanding start of the second half. The 11-0 run turned the tide in Fordham’s favor.
3) Slowing down Justine Lyon. The sophomore guard finished with 13 points, but was forced into a 4-for-14 shooting day from the floor thanks to Fordham’s defense.  

Final thoughts:
“Congratulate my team and Fordham. We played hard and stayed in it. Playing Fordham every time, you do not get high numbers or get a good shot every time down. We talked about offensive boards at the half. A lot of times, they got the offensive rebounds, they got a three, or were fouled. I thought they adjusted on Justine and double-teamed her the second half. She was definitely a go-to player in conference play and stepped up from her freshman year. Happy to play anybody in conference, but don’t know if it was an advantage. The way we beat them on a wide-open layup had to be on their mind. Last year, we did not do a good job staying together. This year, we did. Our seniors helped keep everyone on the same page.” - Davidson coach Michele Savage

“We’ve always played tough games against Davidson, they beat us down there. They were fully loaded today. The first four minutes of the second half were huge. At first, we couldn’t score, then got up those four minutes. Great to get one in the books, the first one is toughest, especially when you are expected to win. G (Davis) had six rebounds, Mary (Goulding) had three. Offensive possessions extended are important, especially when you are not scoring. We’re frustrated, because we did not take Davidson out of what they do. We adjusted second half. We doubled on Lyon and forced someone else to shoot it second half. We wanted the ball out of her hand. At halftime, our concern was defense, not offense. We wanted to set the tone and force them to play defense. Can’t thank everybody enough: Fans, band, dance and cheer squads, for supporting us. Can’t thank them enough. Last time, (against Saint Louis, the Rams’ next opponent) we got away from what we do as a program. We have to stay focused to what we do. The last time playing them was a learning experience.” -  Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley

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