By Carlos Toro
The Rider women’s basketball team lost two competitive games that were decided late in the fourth quarter against Iona and Canisius on Dec. 4 and 6, respectively.
The Broncs (2-5, 0-2 MAAC) had the lead in the fourth quarter in both games before surrendering a scoring run, bringing their losing streak to five games.
Despite the double-digit losses, the team has been competitive, and according to Head Coach Lynn Milligan, if the team continues to play with the same energy as it has in the past couple of games, it will translate into wins.
“I’ll leave it up to you guys to define records and numbers, but if that’s the team I’m coaching, we’re going to be having different conversations as the season goes on,” Milligan said.
Against Iona (3-5, 2-0 MAAC), Rider’s defense held the Gaels to just 33 points after three quarters. At that point, there were eight ties and 10 lead changes in a back-and-forth defensive affair.
Rider started the fourth quarter holding onto a 34-33 lead, but Iona scored 12 straight points to put the game away. Three free throws made by junior guard Robin Perkins and senior guard Manon Pellet cut the lead to eight points, but the Gaels never trailed again.
Rider also lost its opening MAAC game on the road 59-46.
Perkins led the team with 19 points and also had three rebounds, while junior guard Taylor Wentzel scored a career-high 11 points.
After starting the game ahead 6-4 in the first quarter, Rider lost that lead, surrendering 13 points in the last five minutes of the opening period to give Canisius (5-2, 2-0 MAAC) a 17-9 lead.
Canisius held the lead for the entirety of the second quarter, despite being outscored in the paint 16-6 and being outpaced in bench points 14-9. The Golden Griffins kept the Broncs in check, with their lead being no smaller than six points for the first eight minutes of the third quarter.
Rider freshman guard Lexi Strover then carried the team for the remainder of the third quarter by scoring five straight points to cut the Canisius lead to just two points heading into the fourth quarter.
Strover then continued her hot shooting by sinking a three-point shot to start the final quarter, giving Rider its first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
After trading leads until the final four minutes, Canisius went on a 12-0 run to finish the game, winning 73-64. Canisius senior guard Tiahana Mills had eight points in the final run and finished with 20 total points.
Rider sophomore forward C’quoya Haughton had her first career double-double, finishing with 17 rebounds and 12 points. Perkins and Strover had 12 and 13 points, respectively.
Even in the loss, Haughton felt she did a good job of rebounding the ball, something that she wanted to focus on in the game against Canisius.
“I know in these last couple of games Coach [Milligan] has been in my ear, telling me to get rebounds, box out and I just took it on as my role to get every board,” Haughton said.
In the five-game losing streak, the team has dropped three games in which they had the lead in the fourth quarter. The team had chances to win and start the season with a 5-2 record, but instead sits at 2-5.
Rider’s next game will be a home game against Lehigh (6-3) on Dec. 17, and Milligan says that they will take this time to rest and hopefully right the ship for the remainder of the season.
“We have several days to get our minds and bodies right again, but I told the kids in the locker room after the game that if that’s the team I’m coaching every day, then I’m a happy coach,” Milligan said.