RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Six years removed from a winless season, and one year after a one-point loss in the Atlantic 10 women's championship game, Fordham seniors Erin Rooney and Abigail Corning weren't about to let the Rams feel disappointment again.
Rooney scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Corning added 12 points and 11 rebounds Sunday as the Rams beat top-seeded Dayton 63-51 to win the A-10 title.
"From the start we were just like, 'This is our game. It's not happening again,'" Rooney said, referring to last season's 47-46 loss to Saint Joseph's in the title game, which denied the Rams the second NCAA tournament bid in program history.
They took care of that at Richmond Coliseum by taking down the regular season champions with a second-half push that was sparked by an early 11-2 run, and defined by dominance on the backboards. The Rams won the glass 30-13 after halftime.
'That was a huge momentum swing for us," Corning said of the burst, which turned a 41-38 deficit into a 49-43 lead with 11:32 to play. It was led by Mary Nwachukwu, who scored all eight of her points in the spree, hitting three long jumpers.
"They were one-and-done on the boards and that was really big for us," Corning said. "It kept our energy going."
Emily Tapio had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Rams (25-7, 12-5), whose only other trip to the NCAA tournament came as Patriot League champions in 1994. They finished with a 48-33 rebounding edge and scored 30 points in the paint.
"When you give them 17 offensive rebounds and they can shoot the ball like they do, we don't have much of a chance at that point," Dayton coach Jim Jabir said, adding that he gave his team a frank talk about excuse-making and toughness afterward. "Corning is a really tough kid. Rooney is a tough kid and I think they took advantage of our lack of toughness."
League player of the year Andrea Hoover scored 22 points for the Flyers (23-7, 14-3), but no one else had more than eight and the two who did, Celeste Edwards and Cassie Sant, were a combined 8 for 26 from the field.
Dayton's last points came on a basket by Edwards with 5:23 to play.
The Flyers expect an at-large invitation to reach the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season.
After the Rams' burst, the Flyers closed to within 51-47 on two free throws by Hoover and a 17-footer by Ally Malott sandwiched around Danielle Burns' inside basket for the Rams, but Corning scored inside for Fordham, was fouled and converted the three-point play. Then Samantha Clark beat the shot clock with another basket for the Rams.
That rebuilt the margin to 56-47. After Hoover's left-handed layup and Edwards' basket pulled the Flyers back within 56-51, Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley called a timeout. The Rams clamped down on defense, and the Flyers were finished.
The outcome marked a reversal from the team's regular season meeting at Dayton, Ohio. The Flyers eventually came away from that one 73-64 winners, but the game featured 16 lead changes and nine ties.
Dayton led almost throughout the first half until three Fordham players hit 3-pointers in a span of 1:04. Abilgail Corning's 12 footer capped an 11-3 run that gave the Rams their first lead at 29-27.
Amber Dean'e layup and a free throw by Malott gave the Flyers a 30-29 lead at halftime.
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