By Dylan Manfre
The women’s basketball team cannot seem to catch a break. Not even after its first league win of the season.
Sophomore guard Maya Hayacienth, who has started every game for Rider and has been one of its most consistent guard players, was out for the Jan. 17 finale against Saint Peter’s after playing just three minutes in the opener due to an awkward landing. Her absence was among a few factors that contributed to the 59-50 loss
Taiah Thornton accounted for 30 of Saint Peter’s 59 points and Head Coach Lynn Milligan said there was “no answer” for guarding her. Hyacinth is one of the Broncs’ quicker players and was tasked with guarding the fastest player on the opposing team.
“Maya is one of our best perimeter defenders,” Milligan said. “Not having her on the defensive end definitely affects us.”
Rider was not particularly hitting its shots during the game either and it contributed to a 31-17 halftime deficit. The numbers were not appealing either. Guards Makayla Firebaugh and Amanda Mobley shot a combined 0-for-8 from the field — the whole starting lineup shot 3-for-21. Sophomore center Victoria Toomey and Firebaugh were 0-of-5 and Mobley was 0-for-3.
Milligan toying with different lineups today with the team down 11 now and the starters shooting 3-18 from the field.— Dylan Manfre (@Dylan_Manfre11) January 17, 2021
The Peacocks exposed Rider to its own flaws much of the second half, one of them being the ability to play quality transition defense, one of Hyacinth’s specialties.
Rider was outscored 20-6 in points off turnovers.
“That was a huge factor,” Milligan said. “We had some very costly turnovers that they capitalized on just about every single time. When they have 59 points and one kid has 30, and we’re giving up points off turnovers, it’s pretty easy to see why the game ended up the way that it did.”
Senior forward and captain Daija Moses cited the communication on the floor as a factor to Rider’s downfall.
“Just taking that into account … there really is no reason why we couldn’t do what we needed to do the same way we did it yesterday,” Moses said after the loss. “It’s frustrating.”
Losing players to injury on top of the loss has to be frustrating to Milligan too. Junior guard Lenaejha Evans, who had one of her best games at Rider on Jan. 16 where she scored a season-high 14 points, sustained a hand injury after Saint Peter’s forward Sky Castro dove for the ball and landed on top of Evans.
Milligan said that Evans “played that whole second half with one hand and gutted it out for us.”
She still managed to finish the game with 11 points after the injury early in the second quarter.
Milligan ran through the guard gauntlet again looking to test out the depth at the position. Freshman Molly Lynch and sophomore Sophia DeMauro each had three points and shot 1-for-2 from the field.
Lynn Milligan subs out Amanda Mobley for Molly Lynch with 1:14 left in Q1. That's pretty early to be taking Mobley out but she is 0-1 with 2 turnovers in 9 minutes.— Dylan Manfre (@Dylan_Manfre11) January 17, 2021
She said going deep into the bench was not because junior guard Amanda Mobley was kept out for a majority of the second half. Mobley was 0-for-3 at halftime. She finished the weekend series with five points, shot 1-for-8 from the field and turned the ball over seven times.
Rider’s next series is on Jan 22 and 23 at home against Quinnipiac. Both games are at 7 p.m.
Follow Dylan Manfre on Twitter for the latest on the women’s basketball team.