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Atlantic 10 upset: third-seeded Fordham beats top-seed Dayton 63-51 to win title

  • Fordham Dayton Basketball-1.jpg

    Fordham guard Erin Rooney (1) shoots as Dayton guard Andrea Hoover (24) defends during the first half of the Atlantic 10 Conference college basketball championship game in Richmond, Va., Sunday, March 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)The Associated Press

  • Fordham Dayton Basketball-2.jpg

    Dayton head coach Jim Jabir directs his team during the first half of the Atlantic 10 Conference college basketball championship game against Fordham in Richmond, Va., Sunday, March 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)The Associated Press

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    Dayton guard Andrea Hoover (24) shoots over Fordham forward Danielle Padovano during the first half of the Atlantic 10 Conference college basketball championship game in Richmond, Va., Sunday, March 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)The Associated Press

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    Fordham head coach Stephanie Gaitley, right, disputes a call during the first half of the Atlantic 10 Conference college basketball championship game against Dayton in Richmond, Va., Sunday, March 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)The Associated Press

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    Dayton forward Andrijana Cvitkovic (10) falls to the floor in a rebound battle with Fordham forward Samantha Clark (24) during the first half of the Atlantic 10 Conference college basketball championship game in Richmond, Va., Sunday, March 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)The Associated Press

Erin Rooney scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Fordham took the lead with an 11-2 second-half run Sunday and beat top-seeded Dayton 63-51 for the Atlantic 10 women's basketball championship.

Abigail Corning added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Emily Tapio had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Rams (25-7, 12-5), who earned the league's automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. It will be just the second NCAA berth for the Rams; the first came when they won the Patriot League title in 1994.

League player of the year Andrea Hoover scored 22 points for the Flyers (23-7, 14-3), but Dayton's last points came on a basket by Celeste Edwards with 5:23 to play. The regular season champions will need an at-large invitation to reach to the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season.

The Rams, the third seed, outrebounded Dayton 30-13 in the second half.

Mary Nwachukwu, who took just one shot in the first half, scored all eight of her points in the 11-2 run that took the Rams from a 41-38 deficit to a 49-43 lead with 11:32 to play. Nwachukwu hit three long jumpers and a pair of free throws. Rooney also scored inside and Tapio added a free throw to the 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 regrouped and clamped down on defense, and the increasingly desperate Flyers failed to convert another shot in the game.

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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