University at Albany had trouble unveiling its championship banner before the game, and the Great Danes’ problems continued throughout their season opener Friday night at SEFCU Arena.
Fordham, picked 11th in the Atlantic-10 preseason poll after a 12-18 campaign last year, broke the game open by connecting on six of nine from three-point range in the second half and spoiled the Great Danes’ season debut, 60-43.
The Great Danes, picked No. 1 in the America East Conference preseason poll, returned most of their key players from last year’s conference championship team that earned the program’s first trip to the NCAA tournament.
But UAlbany, 23-10 a year ago, didn’t play much like an NCAA tournament team against the Rams.
Fordham took a 24-17 halftime lead, but then really took control from beyond the arc by sinking six of its first eight shots.
The Rams opened up a 32-17 cushion just two minutes into the second half. UAlbany, behind the strong rebounding and inside play of Julie Forster, cut the deficit to nine points on several occasions, but the Rams kept pouring in treys and pulling away once more.
After taking a 46-31 advantage with 9:32 left, the Rams saw their lead slip to 46-37 when Ebone Henry nailed a pair of free throws with 6:42 left.
But Fordham clinched the game with an 8-0 run in the final four minutes. The Rams made eight of nine free throws in the closing minutes.
“We knew that they were a good three-point shooting team coming in,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “They were beating us off the pass, and we needed to be more disciplined on defense. They shot the ball very well against us.”
The UAlbany head coach said her team wasn’t flat, but that the Danes weren’t exactly primed to play.
“We weren’t ready to play. I think it was al the stuff before the game. We needed better leadership in that situation.”
Forster, the three-time America East Conference rebounding champion, pulled down 18 boards to go along with a game-high 16 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Danes, who shot just 29 percent from the floor.
“We felt good going in,” Forster said. “But things didn’t go our way in the beginning. They took us out of our game. We tried hard, but sometimes, you have an off day, and then people start to make mistakes and things add up.”
Fordham, which has four of its five starters back, was led by Erin Rooney with 15 points.
Stoddart 3-8 2-2 10, Clark 0-6 2-2 2, Rooney 5-12 3-4 15, Collins 4-12 2-2 14, Corning 3-9 3-4 10, Durant 0-1 0-0 0, Tapio 3-5 3-4 9, Gaskin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-3 15-18 60.
Forster 8-20 0-0 16, Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Royals 4-12 1-2 11, Henry 3-15 2-2 9, Lowrie 0-1 0-0 0, Rosario 0-3 0-0 0, Craig 0-3 0-2 0, Richards 3-6 0-0 7. Totals: 18-62 3-6 43.
Halftime: Fordham 24-17. Three-point goals: Fordham 9-19 (Stoddart 2-4, Clark 0-1, Rooney 3-5, Collins 4-6, Corning 1-3); UAlbany 4-18 (Forster 0-1, Royals 2-5, Henry 1-7, Rosario 0-3, Richards 1-2). Rebounds: Fordham 41 (Tapio 11), UAlbany 41 (Forster 18). Assists: Fordham 12 (Rooney 4, Collins 4), UAlbany 7 (Royals 3, Lowrie 3). Personal fouls: Fordham 13, UAlbany 16. Officials: Heather Brown, Christopher Poles, James Hawkins. Attendance: 3,278.