By Hannah Newman and Jake Tiger
Rider women’s basketball remained inconsistent this season, finally breaking its losing streak in a win against Marist on Feb. 9, but then immediately falling back into its losing ways against Manhattan on Feb. 12.
The Broncs put an end to their losing streak after taking home a 60-54 victory over Marist on Feb. 9. The victory moved the Broncs to 3-11 in MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) play and shifted their season record to 6-17.
The first quarter began with Marist seizing the ball from the second the timer began and scoring a 3-pointer within the first half minute. This stealthy start put junior guard Makayla Firebaugh on the same ambitious route after scoring a 3-pointer right before the first minute closed. Firebaugh’s basket took the team to a 13-10 lead far into the first quarter, however, this near-end result fueled fire underneath Marist’s feet which put them six points higher and gave them the quarter with a domination of 14-22.
Firebaugh, who led the game in field goals with nine along with junior forward Raphaela Toussaint who tied for second in leading field goals with four aside graduate student guard Amanda Mobley remained consistent with putting points on the scoreboard after giving the quarter back-to-back baskets soon after the timer started.
The Broncs were able to capture the first five minutes of the quarter and inched themselves closer to Marist’s leading score of 22-18. Marist backfired in the second half of the quarter giving them the half, but Firebaugh was able to keep the Broncs close to to Marist’s lead after scoring a 3-pointer and bringing the second quarter 26-29.
The third quarter’s pace remained parallel to that of the second with both teams fighting hard and crawling up the leaderboard side by side with a quick come up of 36-32 with Marist leading,but the Broncs were not satisfied with the short length between baskets. After a 12-0 run, with five points courtesy of Mobley, the Broncs were able to take the lead with a tight final score of 46-42.
“At the end of the third quarter we felt good with how we were playing within the concepts of our game plan. We knew in the fourth quarter we needed to get stops and execute our offense,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “We were able to do that and continued to put each other in successful situations and came out with a great road and much needed win.”
After a triple by Marist put the score at 48-45, the Broncs were sure not to surrender the fourth quarter after going on a 6-0 courtesy of senior guard Jessika Schiffer, senior center Victoria Toomey and Toussaint. Holding the lead at 56-52, a step back jumper by Mobley heavily assisted the Broncs in taking home the leading score of 60-54.
“I think sticking together is what kept us in the game. Obviously the first half didn’t go our way with fouls and calls and such but during that game we didn’t let that slow us down,” said Mobley. “We kept fighting back and I think when we finally hit a couple shots in a row it helped our momentum and we never looked back.”
‘We were right there’
Despite strong performances from Rider’s frontcourt combo, the Broncs failed to keep pace with the Dee Dee Davis-led Jaspers, ultimately suffering a 71-56 loss in the first of four home games on Feb. 12.
Davis totaled 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals in a well-rounded showing that many have come to expect from the reigning MAAC preseason player of the year.
“We were right there a number of times. Credit to them, and particularly Dee Dee Davis for making some big threes,” said Milligan. “Every time we got [the lead] to five or six, they stepped up and made a big shot or big three, and kept us kind of at arm’s length.”
While Davis and Manhattan poured on the points, Toussaint and senior center Victoria Toomey did their best to keep the game within Rider’s reach by grinding out buckets under the rim.
The duo combined for 42 or Rider’s 56 points against the Jaspers, including a career-high, 24-point performance from Toussaint that had Alumni Gym on its feet.
“It’s obviously [Toussaint’s] consistency, but what makes her so dangerous is just our versatility,” said Toussaint. “We can run plays for her to catch it on the perimeter, or we can run plays for her to catch them on the block. And when she wants to score, she’s really tough to guard. I think you’ve kind of seen that little click over, over these last couple of weeks where she’s really wanting the basketball.”
Toussaint and Toomey’s efforts were aided by a number of slick passes from Mobley, who finished the game with 13 assists, a Rider Division I single-game record.
“I thought [Toussaint and Toomey] established themselves today really well,” said Milligan. “To have our two post players score the way they did today against probably the biggest team in the league is something that I’m excited about.”
While Toussaint and Toomey chipped away in the paint, their teammates struggled to get anything going offensively, as the rest of the Broncs combined for just 14 points on 5-of-25 shooting from the field.
“I think overall, we did a decent job compared to what I’ve seen Manhattan do to some other teams,” said Milligan. “A couple more made shots, and I think it’s a different game.”
The Broncs four-game homestand continues on Feb. 16 when they host 0-24 Saint Peter’s. The game begins at 7 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN3.