After a long journey that included two transfers and a rare sixth year of eligibility, Marah Strickland has been an integral part of the Fordham University women's basketball program's turnaround in her final college season.
Strickland, a Mount Airy resident who graduated from Towson Catholic, is enjoying her best campaign to date. The graduate student entered Wednesday ranked second on the team with 13.6 points per game and team highs of 35 3-pointers and a 31.5 3-point percentage in her first 20 games, all starts. She added 3.7 rebounds per contest and 28 assists.
Her play has helped the Rams open the year 15-6 just five years removed from an 0-29 season. The last four years, Fordham finished 12-18, 12-19, 8-22, 8-21.
Strickland transferred to Fordham before the 2011-12 season and was available to play right away because she had graduated, but she missed the entire year for undisclosed reasons. Last April, the NCAA granted her a hardship waiver, giving her an uncommon sixth year.
"We are all very excited to learn that Marah will be playing next year," Rams coach Stephanie Gaitley said in a statement after receiving the decision. "She was an outstanding addition on the sideline as a leader and now we look forward to her being a major contributor on the court. She was a very highly recruited player coming out of high school and has developed her game over the last few years. She will have an immediate impact.
"These appeals do not come easily. I would like to thank the Fordham administration for all their efforts and the NCAA for rewarding this young lady for something she truly deserves."
Strickland started her career at the University of Maryland, playing for her sister Marche's alma mater. She started 59 of her 70 games over two seasons with the Terrapins, averaging 8.6 points. She then transferred to South Carolina for the 2010-11 season, and averaged 8.8 points in 19 contests.
Strickland then moved on to Fordham, where she has found her greatest success.
CO-SWIMMER OF THE WEEK: Senior Courtney Griffith (Westminster) wrapped her final regular season at Mount St. Mary's University by earning Northeast Conference co-Swimmer of the Week for Jan. 29-Feb.4. It was the third NEC weekly honor of her career.
She claimed the award in the Mountaineers' 137-115 loss to Loyola Saturday, their final meet before the conference championships.
Griffith won four short-course meter events against the Greyhounds, finishing first individually in the 50 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly and swimming the opening leg of the Mount's victorious 200 freestyle relay.
The relay performance of 1:51.17 set program and pool records.
MSM next competes in the NEC Swimming & Diving Championships, which begin on Feb. 27 and last four days. Griffith was the first swimmer to earn All-NEC honors in program history when she did so in 2011.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior Caitlin Bach, of the Lebanon Valley College women's basketball team, was named Commonwealth Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season Monday.
The North Carroll grad recorded double-doubles in both of the Dutchmen's wins last week, starting with a 17-point, 14-rebound performance at Hood. She followed with 15 points and 11 rebounds Saturday at Albright.
The win over Hood clinched a conference tournament berth for LVC.
Bach entered Wednesday leading the team with 10.3 rebounds per game while ranked third with 12.0 points per contest.
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Mount St. Mary's freshman Shivaughn Wiggins has been named the Choice Hotels/Northeast Conference Rookie of the Week. It is the third time this season that Wiggins has earned Rookie of the Week honors.
The 5-10 guard averaged 15 points, 3.5 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.5 steals as the Mount went 2-0 with wins over Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.
This is the third NEC Rookie of the Week honor for Wiggins this year. He is the fifth Mount player to earn three or more Rookie of the Week awards, joining Chris McGuthrie (4), Gregory Harris (3), Mychal Kearse (3) and Jeremy Goode (3).