By Dylan Manfre
Previous meetings against Quinnipiac have typically been theatrical. A gutsy battle between the conference’s top teams with a high score, back-and-forth baskets setting a good pace for an intense contest. Nobody knew who would win. There was a certain excitement to the game.
Act two of this year’s installment had a similar but different script that ultimately resulted in a 77-74 Rider overtime win on Jan. 23, a perfect curtain call to a suspect start to the series.
Freshman forward Raphaela Tousasaint knocked down a 3-point shot with 14.7 left in overtime to put Rider up 76-71. Toussaint said it was one of the biggest shots of her basketball career, certainly of her time at Rider.
“I was just like ‘Oh I’m wide open,’ and I could hear [my teammates] counting down and I was like ‘Wow I’m feeling it,’” Toussaint said.
Biggest shot of the season for Toussaint putting Rider up 76-71 with 14.7 left in OT pic.twitter.com/N2B8L2EI8z— Dylan Manfre (@Dylan_Manfre11) January 23, 2021
Toussaint finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. She was also 2-for-3 from long range.
Head Coach Lynn Milligan has touted many times this season how there are times when Rider’s performance on the court does not reflect the effort it puts forth in practice. This game was the exception. Especially after they got “hit on the chin” in the first game of the series in a 72-50 loss when Rider did not look competitive.
“Was I surprised by today? No, I’m not because I know who these kids are and I know what they have inside of them,” Milligan said. “It’s just us continuing to grow and bring that out of them on a more consistent basis. It was a really good effort all the way around.”
The Broncs had five players record double-digits in the game. That variety of scoring is something Rider has desperately been looking for this season. It even showed remnants of last year’s squad which upset Quinnipiac too. That team was led by current WNBAer Stella Johnson, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Amari Johnson and Lea Favre, who was one of the league’s most consistent scorers.
“We’ve always wanted to be a team that anybody [on it] can hurt you. We want all five [players] to be able to score and we want all five [players] to know they can score. That’s always been our MO. I feel that’s just what our program has been about. Last year you had Stella [Johnson] but, you know, everybody else on that team scored. Amari [Johnson] could score, Lea [Favre] could score, you know. Everybody was scoring last year and I think if you have multiple scoring options and you have players that believe that they can score, know when their opportunity’s there to step up and make the shot, I think you have a chance to be a good team.”
Junior guard Amanda Mobley believes if everyone gets involved, games like these are not too far off.
“Because I was the young one last year, it was much easier just to get [everybody] in the mix and play up to everybody’s level,” Mobley said. “I think this year, this win just shows we can be on that level. If we’re all together, if we’re doing everything like we know each and everyone on the team can do, we can play at that level consistently.”
Mobley has struggled for much of the season and in a recent interview said she was not playing 100% because of “little injuries that kept piling up.” The Amanda Mobley Rider has seen throughout the season was not the one it saw today. She was composed, comfortable and got everyone involved.
“It just felt more normal … like Rider basketball,” Mobley said after she dropped 18 points and nine assists. “Everybody was doing everything together, we talked about it before the game just … doing everything offensively, defensively just together.”
3:43 | 1st Q: Rider 13 | Quinnipiac 10.— Rider Women’s Basketball (@RiderWBB) January 23, 2021
Rider is 3-of-5 from three-point range early on. The Broncs have 4⃣ assists on 4⃣ made baskets.
Watch live on ESPN+ ➡️ https://t.co/amytwvgrcr#GoBroncs x #MAACHoops pic.twitter.com/LzswGNX2hx
Mobley made sure of it. She asserted herself as the floor general calling for her teammates to make the extra pass for an open shot. She ended the first half with six assists, tying her season high. The final one of the half was a pass to sophomore guard Maya Hyacienth for a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half. Mobley yelled “Yes Maya,” as Hyacienth drained the shot. Hyacinth finished the game with 18 points in her return to the starting lineup.
The basket put Rider up at halftime for the first time all season as it held a 36-29 advantage.
“Amanda sees things that some of the younger players don’t see yet, so I think they’re doing a really good job of trusting her. If she sees something and she wants them to make that next pass, she does,” Milligan said. “I think she was very verbal today, which I think helped a lot with their confidence of what they needed to do. You’ve heard our motto before ‘Give up the shot that you can make for the shot that we can’t miss,’ And I thought the whole first half we did that exceptionally well.”
While Rider rewrote Quinnipiac’s script for the weekend series, getting this win simply just feels good.
““It feels good, I’m not going to lie. It feels good because this is the way we win,” Milligan said. “This is the way we’re supposed to win. This is the effort we’re supposed to get every single day on our home floor. … It feels good to see them rewarded for a lot of the effort we’ve been putting in.”
Rider will play Marist on the road in its next series on Jan. 29 at 5 p.m.
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