By Dylan Manfre
Head Coach Lynn Milligan described the women’s basketball team’s win over Marist on Jan. 16 as a “boxing match.”
The two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) powerhouses went back and forth, trading leads and offensive runs through regulation and into overtime at the newly renovated McCann Center. In the end, Rider dethroned the host Red Foxes 76-72.
The victory put the Broncs at 11-2 overall and 4-0 in MAAC play, giving the programs its best start ever through 13 games.
Willow Duffell, who gave the Red Foxes their first lead of the game, could not convert a layup with 90 seconds left in regulation and the game was tied 62-62. Senior center Aubre Johnson hit a 10-foot jumper to break a scoreless streak for both teams with 13.4 seconds left in regulation.
Marist wanted to get the ball into either one of its “Big Three” players. Vander Weide found Gilmer inside who converted a three-point opportunity after Lea Favre fouled her with 9.6 seconds left. The two teams went into overtime tied at 65.
Sophomore guard Amanda Mobley hit her third deep 3-pointer of the game as the shot clock expired in overtime to regain the lead for Rider.
Milligan mentioned that staying mentally tough in tight games like this one is one of the team’s biggest strengths.
“We had some lapses in the third quarter that we were able to sustain. When they scored 18 points in the first seven minutes it was still a three-point game. We weren’t getting stops but we were scoring.”
Farve enjoyed her best game of the season and saw career-high minutes (48) and tied her career-high with 24 points and 10 made field goals.
Senior guard Stella Johnson was pinned against Marist redshirt senior Grace Vander Weide who committed three early turnovers. The connection between Stella Johnson and Mobley was on display early in transition, scoring nine points off turnovers in the first quarter.
The Broncs converted nine Marist turnovers into as many points to take a 17-10 lead after 10 minutes.
The Red Foxes opened MAAC play with four-straight wins and scored 90-plus in their last three. It was clear that defense was a top priority — aggressive defense led the Broncs to get into some foul trouble. Stella Johnson, along with senior guard Amari Johnson and senior forward Aubure Johnson, was out of the game with two fouls and made Milligan tap into her bench early.
“We’re different there’s no doubt about that,” Milligan said. “When you have your two leading scorers and your defensive anchor [sitting] it changes things up a bit but I think we did a good job overall with a couple different lineups.”
Mobley kept the Broncs alive as she hit a 30-footer as the shot clock expired and gave Rider a nine-point lead midway through the second quarter.
Marist’s offense then showcased some of its explosiveness.
The Red Foxes shot 5-of-7 through the first six minutes and connected on 2-of-3 3-pointers in that span. Marist went on a 6-0 run after Milligan removed Stella Johnson from the ballgame and pulled to within three points.
Rider retained momentum thanks to Mobley hitting two big shots. The first, as the shot clock expired from Steph Curry-like range. The other as junior forward Daija Moses stole an inbound pass and handed it to Mobley, who chucked a line drive heave from the Red Foxes’ free-throw line as time expired in the first half to give her squad a seven-point lead.
“[Amanda Mobley] literally does [practice those shots],” Milligan said. “The other two [3-pointers] she made were [both] at the end of the shot clock, those are just veteran shots for someone who is not a veteran. They weren’t rushed at all they just happen to be from deep.”
Mobley recorded the first double-double of her career with 11 points, 10 assists, four steals and a block. This performance followed up scoring a career-high 18 points against Quinnipiac. She attributed her recent success to the trust her teammates have in her.
“When it comes down to it they have confidence in me and that’s helping me have confidence,” Mobley said. “Being able to stay calm that just everybody talking to each other and being cool.”
Going into halftime up seven meant Rider did not have to worry about Marist breathing down its neck right out of the half.
The team did, however, have to worry much more about the adjustments Marist made in the locker room.
Alana Gilmer tied the game at 38, Willow Duffell gave the Red Foxes their first lead and they enjoyed a 14-2 run to start the third quarter.
“We did not [limit their touches] in the third quarter … that first seven minutes of the third quarter we didn’t get it done on either end of the floor. I’m not sure [what was different] to be honest with you,” Milligan said. “We came out of the locker room a little bit stagnant and that’s not really our style. If you don’t have team defense against a team like Marist then you’re not winning.”
Stella Johnson hit three big 3s in the contest after making just one of her last thirteen shots from behind the arc. She finished with her second double-double of the year with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
This was Rider’s second overtime game of the season. Mobley said in tight games it is important to stay together.
“When games get close like this we really focus on staying calm and being patient and not rushing anything,” Mobley said. “When we focus on that we know we’ll be able to tough everything out.”
Vander Weide, Gilmer and Hand combined for 51 of Marist’s 72 points.
After coming out 2-0 in two big conference games, Rider will have one day to regroup before its next MAAC battle against Siena on Jan. 18 at Alumni Gym at 4 p.m. on ESPN3.
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