By Jenni Chiarello
The Broncs dropped two more conference games last weekend, losing 64-51 to Fairfield before ending up on the wrong end of a lopsided 70-41 game against Marist.
With the loss to the perennial favorite in the MAAC, Marist, came a season sweep for the Red Foxes, as they defeated Rider 81-65 in Poughkeepsie on Jan. 2.
On Friday, when the Broncs (2-19, 2-8 MAAC) took on Marist (19-2, 10-0 MAAC) in the comforts of Alumni Gym, the first half of the game seemed to be going the Foxes’ way as they jumped out to a 19-10 lead.
However, after a 7-0 Rider rally led by sophomore Caitlin Bopp, the Broncs got to within two at 19-17 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the half. The glory was short lived for the Broncs though as Marist countered with an 8-0 spurt of its own and ended the half with a 29-18 lead. Marist continued to dominate the second half, as Rider never got closer than five. Two 9-0 runs for the Red Foxes sealed the win.
Leading scorers for the Broncs included sophomore Alyssa Parsons with nine and Bopp with eight.
“We obviously struggled offensively against Marist,” said head coach Lynn Milligan. “We were tentative and therefore turned the ball over way too much.”
At the end of the game, the disparity in field goal percentages was just over 5 percent with Marist at 44.3 percent and Rider at 38.9 percent. The real difference of the game came in free throws, steals and turnovers. Marist shot 81.3 percent from the line with Rider only at 42.1 percent. Marist had 15 steals to Rider’s four, but Rider had 19 more turnovers.
Despite the first basket of the game going to the Broncs against Fairfield (14-6, 7-3 MAAC) on Sunday, the Stags quickly jumped out to a 12-3 advantage with a 12-1 run. Rider attempted a comeback and outscored Fairfield 5-0, with three points from junior Ali Heller, but was done one better by a 13-5 Fairfield run. At the end of the half, the Stags were up 29-17.
For the Broncs, the second half seemed to be the light at the end of the tunnel. They cut the lead down to 10 with four points from sophomore Shereen Lightbourne and a three-pointer from Heller.
That was as close as the Broncs would come, however, and with a 38-28 point lead, Fairfield never looked back and closed out the game beating Rider by 13.
In spite of the loss, Rider stood strong offensively. Freshman MyNeshia Mckenzie collected 16 points while Lightbourne and junior Sarah Homan each scored 11. The Broncs managed all of this without two important players — freshman Dior Brown and Bopp. Brown is out for the season following shoulder surgery and Bopp didn’t play after becoming ill before the game.
“At Fairfield we executed our offense much better and didn’t turn it over so that was a good step from Friday’s game,” Milligan said. “Our young kids have an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and learn immediately from their mistakes. This will only benefit us in the future as we continue to improve.”
The Broncs look to rebound from last weekend’s losses when they travel to Loyola (MD) (11-10, 8-2 MAAC) tonight at 7 p.m.