By Tom Albano
The Broncs are gearing up for a big game this weekend, as they go on the road to take on Iona in New Rochelle, N.Y. on Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. The game will air on ESPN3.
Going into the winter break, the Broncs (11-11, 6-5 MAAC) had a 5-4 overall record, with MAAC conference games yet to be played. The Broncs pulled off two strong wins against Army and Pittsburgh; however, the team knew it could not sit comfortably, as there was work to be done with conference games starting soon.
“Winter break is a great time for our team,” Head Coach Lynn Milligan said. “We have a lot of time to focus on just basketball. We spend a lot of extra time working on individual skills. We also spend time together as a team more off the court.”
The Broncs got off to a slow start over the break, losing three straight games, including one at home against first-place Marist.
“Our turnaround came from getting back to playing our game and doing what we do best as a team,” senior center Caitlin Bopp said.
Bopp knew that this season could be special if the players were all on the same page.
“We realized as a team that we could do something this season and if we wanted to do something big, we needed to pick it up,” she said.
With this in mind, the Broncs went 4-3 in their last seven games over the break, including a win on the road against Fairfield,the final game before the start of J-Term.
Following a win against Manhattan on Jan. 31, the Broncs took on Niagara at home on Feb. 2, which ended in a bitter 64-59 defeat.
“We did not play our best but still had a chance to win,” Milligan said. “We did not rebound well, which gave Niagara too many extra opportunities.”
The Broncs knew they had to cash in from the charity stripe in order to get back to their winning ways.
“We needed to make our free throws, something that has been a real strength for us this year and I think we dropped the ball on that,” Brown said. “Also, our one-on-one defense was struggling.”
Rising above its flaws, the team defeated Fairfield 55-44 last night. They look to keep building as they take Iona (11-10, 6-4 MAAC) on ESPN3.
“Any time you get a chance to play a TV game it is exciting,” Milligan said. “The last time we played Iona, we lost in the MAAC tournament in overtime. This game will be very exciting and a tough matchup but we will be ready. We have been playing fairly well and are in the thick of things in the MAAC. We will be prepared for every game with the intention of playing good Rider basketball for 40 minutes at a time.”