By Rob Rose
After an 0-6 start, a 5-3 record in conference play — highlighted by a 62-49 win against Iona — has the women’s basketball team trending in the right direction.
Rider began conference play with a pair of losses at home against Marist and Siena. The Broncs followed by winning three straight games — defeating St. Peter’s, Canisius and Fairfield.
After losses at Quinnipiac and Marist, and a home victory against Niagara, Rider hit the road for a matchup with Iona on Jan. 25.
Despite making a run to the semifinals of the MAAC Tournament last season and winning the MAAC Championship in 2016, Iona has struggled this season, entering the game with an 0-19 record.
The Broncs were slow out of the gate, connecting on only three of their 15 shots, and turning the ball over five times. After the first quarter, Iona led 18-8.
In the second quarter, strong defensive play by Rider forced eight Iona turnovers and held the Gaels to only six points. The Broncs held a 28-24 lead at halftime.
The third quarter saw the Gaels turn the ball over eight more times, and the Broncs were able to increase their lead to 20 points, securing the victory.
“Any road game in the MAAC is dangerous,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “MAAC road games are so hard and important to get, no matter who you are playing. We’re happy we were able to come here and get the win.”
Leading the Broncs was sophomore guard Stella Johnson who stuffed the stat sheet, finishing the game with 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block.
Senior guard Kamila Hoskova and freshman guard Jaiden Morris added 13 points each, and sophomore forward Aubre Johnson added a career-high nine points while grabbing eight rebounds.
“We are working together as a team more,” said Johnson. “The freshmen and sophmores are starting to get their roles now.”
Rider returned home on Jan. 27 for a rematch with Fairfield after the Broncs won the first matchup this season on Jan. 10.
A 6-0 run by Fairfield gave the Stags a 15-10 advantage as the first quarter came to an end.
Junior guard Lexi Posset scored eight of her 10 points in the second quarter, hitting twice from beyond the three-point line to give the Broncs a 26-25 lead heading to the locker room.
In a game of runs, the Broncs started the second half with a 6-0 spurt, but the Stags responded with a 14-0 run of their own, including a trio of three-pointers. Rider cut the Fairfield advantage down to three, trailing 45-42 after the third.
The fourth quarter was controlled by the Stags as they hit 11 free throws and led by as much as 14. Fairfield held on for the 68-57 victory.
The Broncs record is now 8-13 overall, 5-5 MAAC, with eight games remaining before the MAAC Tournament. Rider’s next game is on Feb. 1 against Manhattan in Alumni Gym.