By Jake Tiger
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, Rider women’s basketball took on the Siena Saints on Dec. 29, sorely needing a win in its third game of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play. Despite 10 days of rest and playing at home for the first time in 22 days, the Broncs appeared flat and flustered, falling to Siena 68-44 due to a historically dreadful shooting performance.
“Just a terrible display of basketball by the Lady Broncs. I mean, there’s really no other way to say it,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “We played a bad basketball game. We got beat down the floor, we got beat to the ball on rebounds, and obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball well, so it’s kind of like the perfect storm. With that being said, not surprised by the outcome.”
For the night, Rider was 2-of-22 (9.1%) from three, and 15-of-65 (23.1%) overall in what was a remarkably rough outing from start to finish.
The Broncs were 3-of-19 from the field in the first quarter and could only muster nine points as a team.
“We’ve just got to be together as a team and play our style of basketball,” said junior forward Makayla Firebaugh. “I feel like we had each other’s backs, but I don’t feel like we played our style of basketball.”
Along with the poor shooting, starting junior forward Raphaela Toussaint was limited to seven minutes in the first half, as she quickly got into foul trouble with two personals in the first quarter.
Sophomore forward Emily Strunk was forced to take the court in place of Toussaint for the entire second quarter, and fortunately for the floundering Broncs, she did not disappoint.
Less than four minutes into the second quarter, Strunk connected on two layups and an and-one to earn seven points, a team-high at the time.
However, Strunk’s brief brilliance was Rider’s sole bright spot, and one that was overshadowed by an abysmal second half.
Rider’s frigid shooting only worsened, with their woes snowballing into an avalanche of offensive despair. The Broncs did not make a single three in the second half, ultimately missing all 10 of their attempts and only scoring 19 points.
“We have to hit our shots, and we know that,” said Firebaugh, who was 0-of-8 from three in the game. “That’s on us for not getting in the gym and making those shots consistently and getting game-like reps.”
With nothing falling for Rider, the Saints’ lead ballooned to 24 points just by playing decent basketball, as they handed Rider a 68-44 loss in its first home game of MAAC play.
“We have high expectations. We clearly didn’t meet them today,” said Milligan. “That’s disappointing, but we’ve got to roll up our sleeves, get back to work and get better. We have nowhere to go but up right now.”
With the nightmare performance behind them, the Broncs will have a chance to end 2023 on a high note, traveling to Saint Peter’s on Dec. 31 in search of their first win in MAAC play. The game begins at 12 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.