By Dylan Manfre
Against Villanova, Rider struggled to find its identity on multiple fronts from scoring, defense and overall chemistry.
Sure, the Broncs are coming off a 14-day quarantine because of a positive COVID-19 test and the loss of paramount preparation on top of losing many of their main scoring options, but Villanova was only game one.
Game two against Drexel, who was picked second in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) preseason poll and were the co-regular season champions in 2019-2020, on Nov. 28 took a bit of a different narrative to start things off but finished in a 62-49 loss in Rider’s home opener.
The Broncs saw a solid outing off the bench from newcomer freshman forward Raphaela Toussaint, who ended the game with 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting and seven rebounds.
Credit certainly needs to be given to Raphaela Toussaint who has 6 points and 6 rebounds. A force for rebounds. Hopefully she evolve into what Amari Johnson was.— Dylan Manfre (@Dylan_Manfre11) November 28, 2020
“I think when you have somebody like [Toussaint] coming off the bench and you have that power and you have that kind of grit … Raphie’s not afraid to get on the floor,” Head Coach Lynn Milligan said. “I think you saw a lot of the things Raphie does well come out today.”
Rider’s bench ended the game outsourcing Drexel’s, 15-8.
With Toussaint’s seven boards, Milligan said she could see a potential comparison to class of 2020 senior guard Amari Johnson, who is on record saying her favorite part of basketball is rebounding.
“I love it,” said Toussaint, who is from Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Toussaint FaceTimes with her family daily and says they motivate her to be a more aggressive player.
“I know I’m working for them and they make sacrifices for me, so why not do the same on the court,” Toussaint said.
Milligan added Toussaint could be mixed in with some of the starters too throughout the season.
“She does give us, honestly, some flexibility to play big and play small,” Milligan said. “And play her with [Victoria Toomey] and [Sofie Bruintjes], play her with Daija [Moses] so we can get a little creative with that as Raphie continues to develop.”
Halftime thoughts pic.twitter.com/hrKeR8sdIg— Dylan Manfre (@Dylan_Manfre11) November 28, 2020
The Dragons, who played in their season opener against the Broncs on Nov. 28, started the second quarter taking smart, open shots which cut into Rider’s early lead. Hetta Saatman, Maura Hendrixson and CAA preseason first team selection Keishana Washington helped Drexel go 4-for-4 to start the second quarter. Much better than its 1-of-14 shooting in the first quarter.
Led by Hannah Nihill, Drexel picked up the pace and took its first lead of the game off a Washington 3-pointer with 7:25 left in the opening half. The lead grew to as much as six and saw the Dragons take a small 27-23 lead going in halftime.
Nihill’s ball handling and scoring drove Drexel on a 10-0 run that started late in the third quarter and continued into the early minutes of the fourth quarter which Rider lost a lot of what it had accomplished early on.
The Broncs were limited to 1-of-8 shooting and had 12 points in the final period. If there is anything Milligan wants to accomplish, it is getting a consistent offense.
“There’s a lot of work still to be done,” Milligan said. “The level of play we want to have on every possession was a little off today.”
Rider will take on Army West Point at home on Dec. 2 at 1 p.m.
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