By Logan VanDine
In a seesaw affair, Rider women’s basketball outlasted Boston University after a fourth-quarter scare to win 58-55 on Nov. 18.
“We came in with a good game plan, I thought we came in with the right mentality and that’s what we’ve been working on with this group; is just being consistent with our mentality, consistent on how we want to do things and fall back on our training,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “BU came at us in that fourth quarter and I thought that we really stepped up. We bent, but we didn’t break.”
A late run by the Terriers erased Rider’s lead with seconds to spare, but a game-winning three from senior forward Sofie Bruintjes allowed the Broncs to escape with the win, handing Boston its first loss of the season.
Heading into the matchup, the Broncs knew they were in for a test, taking on a Terriers team that was a perfect 3-0 heading on the season.
It was a tight opening quarter with the Broncs only being up 14-13 as the first quarter concluded.
The back-and-forth battle continued into the second quarter as Rider only outgained Boston 15-12, but it was enough for the Broncs to take a 29-25 lead into the locker room.
When both teams returned to the court, the Broncs clearly came with some adjustments, as they outscored Boston 17-8 to take a comfortable 46-33 lead into the fourth.
But, Boston had other ideas: a 6-0 run to begin the quarter cut the deficit down to seven, and eventually, a 14-2 run made it just a one-point game for Rider.
“I wasn’t telling them too much. They knew what was going on,” Milligan said. “If you’re not scoring, we have to get stops, and … we gave up those threes and credit to BU, they stepped up and made those threes.”
After Boston took a 55-53 lead deep into the quarter, Rider was in desperate need of points, and it was Bruintjes who knocked in the go-ahead three to give the Broncs a one-point lead, 56-55 with less than 5 seconds to go.
“The team has a lot of faith in me and even when I don’t, they’re always there to support me,” said Bruintjes. So when I got that ball, “I knew it was my time to step up and make it and when I made it, I felt so much love from the bench …and I knew whatever I do, they always got my back,” Bruintijes said.
After a timeout, Bruintjes was called for a defensive foul and with a chance to at least tie it, the Terriers missed both free throws to keep it a one-point Rider lead. Senior guard Makayla Firebaugh was then fouled on offense, and she drained both her free throws to give Rider a three-point cushion and a dramatic win.
Firebaugh emphasized how important it was for her to make her free throws to keep the game at one possession.
“I knew my team trusted me, I knew coach trusted to put the ball in my hands. I was prepared for it, I knew what I had to do I knew, I had to step up and make them and I practice those types of shots as much as I can in practice,” Firebaugh said.
The Broncs leading scorers were graduate student guard Taylor Langan with 18 points, followed by Firebaugh with 12 and freshman center Kaylan Deveney, who added 8 points.
The Broncs move to 2-2 on the season and will remain at home on Nov. 21 when they take on La Salle at 7 p.m.