By Kristie Kahl
The women’s basketball team has another win under its belt with five games to go as its season winds down with conference games.
The Broncs fell to St. Peter’s (16-7, 8-4 MAAC) 56-62 before coming back to overtake Iona (15-9, 9-4 MAAC) 57-49 at the Broncs’ Zoo, improving their record to 7-17 overall and 2-11 in the MAAC.
“You look at numbers and you want to win more games, but if you break it down to the games we’ve lost, we’ve probably had only three bad games all year where we didn’t play well,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “Overall, competing the way we have this season, we’re very proud of ourselves. The teams that beat us 30 to 40 points last year, we’ve either beaten or been right there to the end of it. It’s definitely something to build on with our competitiveness and mental toughness.”
In Rider’s loss to St. Peter’s, the Broncs trailed 60-47 before going on a 9-0 run to get within four points with a minute left in regulation. Unfortunately, the Broncs would get no closer, as St. Peter’s hit two free throws to end the game.
“We gave up too many points in the first half,” said Milligan. “We played a pretty solid game overall, but we had too many turnovers. We battled back like we always do and put ourselves in the position to cut it to two with the ball, but we missed a lay-up.”
For Rider, sophomore Tammy Meyers added 16 points with four assists and four rebounds. Sophomore Stephanie Wisniewski scored 10 points with five rebounds and sophomore Ashley Anderson led the Broncs with seven rebounds.
“We weren’t happy with the loss on Friday night but we did take something positive out of it, based on how we handled their pressure and how we were able to score in the second half and how we were able to defend them in the second half,” Milligan said.
On Sunday, Rider came back to clinch a win over Iona to end a three-game losing streak and the Gaels’ five-game winning streak.
Iona opened the game on a 6-0 run before senior Janele Henderson sparked an 11-0 run with three 3-pointers. The Gaels responded with a 10-0 run to make the score 16-11. Both teams traded points on the board until Iona led 31-28 going into the half.
With five minutes left in the second half, the Broncs trailed by one point until they went on a 7-0 run to take a 50-44 lead, marking the 11th and final lead change of the game. The Broncs held Iona without a field goal for the final 2:18 of the game to finalize a Rider win.
The Gaels have averaged 73 points per game, but Rider held them to only 18 points in the second half. The Broncs out-rebounded Iona 48-38, for their second-highest rebound total of the season.
“I told the team that we didn’t out-score them, we out-defended them,” Milligan said. “We’re going to score between 55 to 60 points a game normally, that’s just who we are, but if we can defend then we can be successful.”
For the Broncs, Henderson scored 14 points in her 100th career game at Rider.
Anderson shot 75 percent from the field while adding a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds along with two steals. Sophomore Amanda Sepulveda added to the win with 13 points and five rebounds.
“Our mentality is good right now, and I think our confidence level needs to stay where it is if not get greater,” Milligan said. “I think that our mental confidence is going to continue to grow and I think as long as we can defend and rebound we can win every game.”
The Broncs find themselves in 10th place within the conference, but are shooting for a goal to win their season.
Rider has come a long way this year with more than double the number of wins under Milligan as compared to last season’s record. In 13 of their 17 losses, the team has come within 10 points of winning, with 11 of those games losing by single digits.
“We have five games left and we feel like we can compete with every team we’re playing,” Milligan said. “Hopefully we can keep that momentum going. We want to get out of 10th place, and we have five games left to do that and I think that Sunday’s win puts us in the right direction.”
Rider continues its conference quest, traveling to Loyola tonight at 7 p.m.