By Dylan Manfre
Desperate for a win in the worst way, Rider altered its lineup for the third time in four games in hopes of solving the “puzzle” Head Coach Lynn Milligan alluded to after a loss against Army.
After a 58-51 loss to Delaware State, Rider is going to have a lot more to work on moving forward than just who its putting out to start the game. Especially after making only five field goals in the entire first half.
“We got good shots, we just didn’t make them,” Milligan said. “Sometimes it’s really that simple. … I think we rushed our shots a little bit early.”
Somehow the Broncs cut a 13-point deficit down to seven at the final horn — make no mistake, it was not pretty.
The Broncs (0-4) took a 22-16 deficit into halftime and it was their lowest first half scoring output since Marist held them to 13 on Feb. 11. Rider scored 11 in the first and two in the second.
Neither team had a double-digit scorer at halftime. In fact, neither team had a double-digit scorer until Delaware State’s Melissa Sam scored her 11th in the third quarter. Sam along with Preseason All-MEAC Second Team selection Sharaja Collins each finished with 11.
Four games into the season and Rider has not found consistent scoring — that’s a big piece of Milligan’s puzzle. But Milligan says they have found “balanced” scoring.
“We shot the ball really well individually and I think that’s what it’s going to take for everybody doing their part,” Milligan said. “We just need to cut down on some of our young mistakes and tighten some things up.”
Four players shot over 40% from the field with freshman forward Raphaela Toussaint hitting 4-of-5 (80%). Freshman guard Makayla Firebaugh had 10 points, uppering her season-high of eight.
Junior guard Amanda Mobley is the team’s returning leading scorer at just under ten points per game last year. She was also tabbed on the Preseason All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Second Team.
Milligan said Mobley “tweaked her shoulder” and her day was done after six minutes simply as a precautionary move and added that her starting point guard will be ready to go against Manhattan.
Sophomore guard Sophia DeMauro had 11 points for Rider on 4-of-9 shooting off the bench. It was a season-high for the Staten Island, New York, native who averaged 3.5 minutes per game in her rookie year.
The new scheduling format is in effect and Rider will begin conference play against the Manhattan Jaspers in six days. It’s the longest gap between games so far this season.
“We could always improve and our energy was consistent,” DeMauro said. “We were constantly talking and picking each other up … We needed these four [nonconference games] to see where we are.”
The last time Rider went 0-4 to start the season was 2017-2018 when the team finished 14-17 with a 20-point loss in the MAAC tournament semifinals to Quinnipiac.
While it is winless and losing games by an average of 17 points, Milligan maintained that the score is not reflective of the team’s overall efforts.
“I think they’re reflective of who we are, which is a young team right now,” Milligan said.
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