Defense pushes Rider to third straight win

By Shaun Chornobroff

The Rider women’s basketball team continued to play inspired basketball, winning its third-straight game and defeating Monmouth on the road for the second straight day, with a 45-31 victory over the Hawks on the final day of January. 

Head Coach Lynn Milligan’s team started her 14th season an uncharacteristically poor 1-12, but her youthful roster has won four of its last six games, and sit at 5-14 on the season and 4-10 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play.

“We’re definitely trending in the right direction,” a cautiously optimistic Milligan said. “Every day for us is a growth opportunity as a young group. When you grind things out during the year, work on things… you create your own opportunities with how hard you work and how hard you prepare. This team has bought into that all-year long and I think now we’re rewarding ourselves with some good play and getting some W’s.”

The Broncs’ defense was strong from the first tip to the final buzzer, only allowing Monmouth to convert on 25.5% of its shots and forcing 15 turnovers in the game. 

“I thought it was a good carryover from yesterday,” Miligan said of her team’s defensive performance after the win. “I thought we made just a couple tweaks on a couple of their sets that we knew and I thought we bought into the defensive gameplan again. That’s a good sign for us to be able to have the discipline to play as good of defense as we did yesterday.”

Milligan’s team never allowed Monmouth to take the lead in the game. Junior Amanda Mobley scored the game’s first points and never looked back. The veteran guard took control of the game early, scoring five points and dishing out two assists, as Rider started the game on a 9-0 run. 

“It just helped bring everybody up and started to get our momentum going,” Mobley said of her early game exploits. 

Rider didn’t allow Monmouth to get on the board until there was 2:33 left in the first quarter when Ariana Vanderhoop converted two free-throws. Monmouth was unable to score on a field-goal attempt until there was 57 seconds left in the opening quarter. 

A trey from freshman forward Raphaela Toussaint gave Rider a 14-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and the team took a 24-10 lead into the halftime break. 

Monmouth showed resilience in the second half, cutting the Rider lead to nine twice in the game’s final 20 minutes. Both times Dajia Moses immediately responded with baskets of her own. The senior forward was a bright spot for the team, leading all scorers with 14 points off the bench. 

“That’s what seniors are supposed to do,” a complementary Milligan said after the game. “She came in and gave us a nice lift offensively, they started switching up defenses on us, man and zone, and every time they went zone I felt like Dajia was the one that burned them… She did the same thing for us yesterday on the defensive end, today she did it on the offensive end, it was a really solid weekend for her.”

Rider will look to capitalize on its momentum on Feb. 5 when it travels to Buffalo to take on the Canisius Golden Griffins, a time has not been announced for the game yet.

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