By Jillian Shutt
The women’s basketball team fell to two MAAC competitors as it fought hard with only 10 players suited up in both contests. The Broncs lost to Niagara 68-56 on Saturday and to Canisius 77-58 on Monday.
“Going up to Buffalo, you want to have the intention of winning two games,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “Defensively in the second half of both games we struggled and had some breakdowns.”
The game against Niagara was a hard-fought battle. The Broncs were up and down for the first 20 minutes of the game. At the half, Rider was only down by five points, but after the intermission, the Purple Eagles started to pull away.
“We had some breakdowns defensively with communication and that gave their best players some open looks and we were unable to answer offensively,” Milligan said. “We gave them easy baskets at the end of the first half and that carried over early in the second half and they went on their run,” Milligan said.
Senior Amanda Sepulveda had an outstanding game, scoring a career-high of 26 points, which is the most points scored by a single player since Tammy Meyers scored 26 against Iona on Dec. 5, 2008, during her junior season.
“She did a great job and we were able to get her open off some out of bounds plays and at the back end of some of our man sets,” Milligan said. “Her teammates did a great job of setting her up and she did a great job of finishing.”
The Broncs were faced with adversity, particularly from injuries, and ended up losing to Niagara. MAAC Rookie of the Week Caitlin Bopp has been greatly missed since she has been out with a back injury.
Despite the loss, the Broncs did well in their rebounding. They had a 40-31 rebounding advantage over the Purple Eagles, which helped to keep the Broncs in the game, but it was not enough to give them a win. The leading rebounder for the Broncs was freshman Carleigh Brown with seven boards.
After this upset, Rider stayed in Buffalo, N.Y. to compete against another MAAC competitor, Canisius, on Monday. The Broncs lost their second straight MAAC game as they fell to the Golden Griffins.
Rider started out strong, leading 21-16 10 minutes into the contest. However, the Broncs fell behind Canisius by three points at the half.
Rider still faced the disadvantage of missing three players because of injuries. Sophomore Sarah Homan and junior Cintella Spotwood played well against Canisius. Homan scored 14 points and Spotwood 13. These two athletes also had a great rebounding game, with Homan bringing down 10 rebounds and Spotwood nine, respectively.
“Sarah had the opportunity to play a little bit more because of Caitlin’s injury and she’s taken advantage of it,” Milligan said. “She’s been playing tougher under the boards and she’s getting better looks.”
While this was an improvement from the last meeting with the Golden Griffins, it is not exactly what the Broncs were expecting.
Canisius has won 23 out of the last 29 meetings with Broncs.
“We took some positives out of both losses but we were disappointed with the outcomes,” Milligan said. “We put ourselves in position and prepared to win the games but we just came up a little short.”
Rider travels to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. for a MAAC game against defending conference champion Marist tonight at 7:30 p.m.
“Marist is a terrific team and they’ve won our league the last couple years,” Milligan said. “They’re a very tough opponent on their home floor. We’re going to go up there and execute the best we can and try and defend them. We like our game plan and we’re going to have to make open shots.”
The Broncs have lost two in a row as they hope to turn things around before the season’s end.
By Jillian Shutt