Fordham's 3 women's basketball seniors excel in classroom

NEW YORK (AP) It's not that rare in women's basketball for players to earn enough credits to graduate before their senior year is done.

Not many of those athletes, however, decide to earn a master's degree in that fourth season, continuing their education.

Fordham seniors Danielle Burns, Hannah Missry and Danielle Padovano did just that, getting a master's in media management after the trio earned their undergraduate degrees in three years. That's making the most of their education as Fordham costs roughly $191,000 for a non-scholarship student over four years, with a master's degree starting at $50,000-plus.

''We like being busy,'' Missry said. ''The last three years, we were always in classes, running back and forth, never having down time. We found time to work on our game. This year, it's been an easy year by far. It's been great and balancing what we can manage.''

They were honored Sunday as Fordham played its final regular-season home game against Atlantic 10 leader Dayton and knocked off the Flyers 66-52. It's the team's first win over Dayton since the three were freshmen.

''It's great, as you can imagine,'' Padovano said. ''It's come full circle, and that's pretty cool.''

The Rams will be home next weekend to host the opening round of the conference tournament, which switched its format this year with the first round being played on campus sites.

Of the three, only Burns came to Fordham with the plan to graduate in three years. When Padovano was a sophomore, she figured out that she could also have enough credits to finish early. Burns, like her fellow classmates, had spent summers on campus to train and also take classes to lessen the academic load during the season.

''We're really blessed at Fordham to do what we did in the amount of time we did,'' Burns said. ''Shows how hard we work every day on the court or in the classroom. I'm really fortunate to be with these two other great friends.''

While having graduate students on teams isn't that unusual, they mostly are athletes who are using a fifth-year of eligibility after suffering some kind of injury during their playing careers.

To have three on the same team who just excelled academically off the court, that's exceptional.

''You have some schools that have one or two high achievers, that to me is why this class is special,'' Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley said. ''Those that work hard in the classroom tend to give you everything on the court also.''

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