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Women's Basketball Reaches Gulf Coast Showcase Final with 65-57 Win over Washington

Estero, Fla. – The Fordham women's basketball team advanced to the Gulf Coast Showcase final with a 65-57 win over Washington on Saturday afternoon. The Rams overcame a slow start and never trailed after taking the lead in the second quarter, propelled by a season-high 25 points from Bre Cavanaugh and Kendell Heremaia's first career double-double, plus a third straight single-digit turnover performance by the offense. With the win, their third straight, the Rams improve to 4-2 on the year, while the Huskies fall to 3-2. "I'm super proud of the tremendous team effort we had today," Head coach Stephanie Gaitley said, "We talked about needing to put two halves together to beat them and that was the most complete game we have played. That was a fun win for a fun group of kids. I'm really happy for them." For a third straight game, Fordham's opponent shot better than 50% from the field over the opening 10 minutes. Washington hit 8-of-13 shots, including 4-of-6 from downtown, racing out to an early 11-3 lead on three straight long-range makes and a lay-up before the Rams started to settle into the game. Cavanaugh started and finished an 8-0 run with a three-point play and a triple, respectively, sandwiched around a Mary Goulding jumper to take a brief 14-13 lead but Amber Melgoza answered with a jumper to retake the lead. Washington led, 20-15, in the final seconds of the period but the Rams got an extra two points via graduate student Alexa Giuliano, who grabbed an offensive board and laid it back up at the buzzer to cut the deficit to three, 20-17. The Rams kept pace with the Huskies over the opening few minutes of the second, getting within one on three occasions, but took the lead for good at the end of the half through a Goulding steal and jumper, 28-26. Cavanaugh punctuated the comeback with her fourth three-pointer of the first half with 26 seconds remaining to give the Rams a five-point lead, 31-26, at the break. Fordham held the Huskies to just six points on 27.3% shooting overall, including 0-of-5 from behind the arc. Fordham kept its up momentum up in the third, outscoring Washington, 19-11, in the frame, with a 12-8 margin on the boards, including six on the offensive end, and forcing seven turnovers. Lauren Holden came alive in the third with eight of her nine points in the game, hitting 3-of-5 shots, including both long-range attempts, while Cavanaugh added a pair of steals. The Rams pushed their lead up to 13 by the end of the quarter, 50-37, finishing with five unanswered points via a Cavanaugh steal and fastbreak layup, an open Heremaia layup off an in-bounds pass, and a Cavanaugh make from the line. The Huskies made a late charge, hitting over 60% of their shots in the fourth quarter, but never got within six as the Rams continued to respond. From the six-minute mark to the one-minute mark, the Fordham New Zealand trio of Goulding, Heremaia, and Zara Jillings combined for 10 points to ward off the Washington rally. Cavanaugh led the way with a new season-high 25 points, giving her 49 total for the first two days of the tournament. The redshirt sophomore hit 7-of-19 shots, including four more triples, and added four boards, two assists, and a season-high four steals over 38 minutes. Heremaia busted loose for 10 rebounds to go with 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting, adding three dimes and a steal over 30 minutes. Holden contributed nine points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals, and Goulding notched eight points, five boards, and a steal. Jillings enjoyed an efficient six points off the bench with three assists and a steal, while Megan Jonassen hauled in four rebounds across 14 minutes off the pine. The Rams won yet another battle of the boards, 36-32, including a margin of 16-5 on the offensive class. Fordham forced the Huskies into a season-high 21 turnovers and just four assists after the first quarter. Fordham, meanwhile, enjoyed more assists (13) than turnovers (8) yet again. The team also tallied a season-high 10 steals. Washington outshot Fordham 50% to 37.3% and 33.3% to 25.9% from deep. However, the Huskies did not attempt a single free throw, while Fordham hit 8-of-13 shots. The Rams will face either #10/9 Texas or RV/RV Michigan in tomorrow's championship game, which is set for 7:30 p.m. or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the third-place game.

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