Broncs celebrate Senior Day with OT win over Marist
By Jake Tiger
With its Senior Day, Rider women’s basketball’s regular season ended in storybook fashion, with Rider battling to a spirited, 66-63 win in overtime against Marist.
The win pencils the Broncs in as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament’s 10th seed at 6-14, having won four of their last seven games.
“We call them ‘remember when’ moments, and we wanted to create a ‘remember when’ moment today,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “Now, when these guys get together five, 10, 15 years from now, they can always say, ‘Remember when we won on Senior Day in overtime against Marist?’”
At midcourt before tipoff, the Broncs celebrated the careers of four departing players: senior guard Sophia DeMauro, senior guard Maya Hyacienth, senior forward Anna Ekerstedt and graduate student guard Amanda Mobley.
Each player was walked onto the court by family members, and received flowers from the coaching staff.
“They’ve all had different journeys to get here; they’ve all had different paths when they got here,” said Milligan. “But the common denominator, like I told them, is they’re Lady Broncs for life.”
Excluded from the Senior Day festivities were senior guard Jessika Schiffer and senior center Victoria Toomey. After the game, Milligan confirmed that both starters will return as graduates.
Meanwhile, Mobley, the team’s only current graduate student, will leave Rider women’s basketball as its all-time leader in games played, and second all-time leader in career assists. This season, she ranks 13th in the nation in assists per game.
“I couldn’t have asked for something better for my last time putting the uniform on at home, so it was a great day,” said Mobley. “Lots of supporters here.”
Brianna Mobley, the older sister of Rider’s starting point guard, rang in the special contest with a singing of the national anthem that had Alumni Gym swooning over every lush vocal flourish.
“Are you kidding? She was amazing,” said DeMauro, who gave the performance a “10 out of 10.”
As a commemorative gesture, Milligan slotted Hyacienth into the starting lineup for Senior Day, getting the nod over the usual starter, Schiffer, who came off the bench.
“It meant a lot, especially coming off of an injury that took me out for the whole season,” said Hyacienth. “I did miss it, so it felt nice to be out there.”
In the climactic win, three Broncs reached double figures, including Toomey (19), junior forward Raphaela Touassint (12) and junior guard Makayla Firebaugh (16).
Firebaugh, Rider’s leading scorer on the season, had six of Rider’s 10 points in overtime, powering her team to the triumphant victory.
The performance featured Firebaugh’s 1,000th point as a Bronc, becoming the 24th player in program history to reach the milestone, according to Rider Athletics.
“[Firebaugh] wants the ball to make that big shot for her team, and that’s what you need. You need players that aren’t afraid of that moment,” said Milligan.
Along with Senior Day, the game was an appetizer for the upcoming MAAC Tournament, as the Broncs are now locked into a first-round rematch with the Red Foxes.
“It was a game that both teams wanted to win, but obviously a game I think that both teams know is going to happen again on Tuesday,” said Milligan. “We’ve got to be super diligent and learn our lessons from this game. … Tuesday’s going to be a chess match, and it’s going to be really fun.”
Rider now cruises down to Atlantic City, New Jersey, for a rematch with Marist, fighting it out in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall on March 7 at 12:30 p.m. The win-or-go-home matchup will be streamed on ESPN+.