By Maria Eldridge
Rider women’s basketball (0-2) came up short in a defensive struggle in the season opener at Bucknell (1-0) on Nov. 12. With a score of 53-48, the Broncs found themselves up one point at halftime, 27-26, before losing the second half, 27-21, to close the game. Offense appears to have been their kryptonite this weekend after another tough loss to Penn State (3-0) on Sunday, 95-21.
“The first two games of the season were obviously not what we wanted or expected,” said head coach Lynn Milligan. “We played a tough Bucknell team and a very talented Penn State team. We had to learn some hard lessons, which I believe we did.”
Though scoring hasn’t proved to be the Broncs’ area of expertise, junior Ali Heller has been an effective shooter, hitting outside jumpers as well as shots from inside the paint.
“Ali is a pure shooter,” said Milligan. “We have to do a good job of setting her up and getting her more open looks. It is important for us to have a consistent outside threat to help our post game.”
Heller has led Rider with 14 points against Bucknell and six against Penn State, but it wasn’t enough to carry Rider to victory.
The Broncs shot 23 for 96 in the two games, eight for 33 in three-pointers and made 15 of 32 shots from the foul line.
“Everyone on the team has the ability to score double figures. We just need to keep putting each other in successful situations like my teammates have done for me the past two games,” said Heller.
Turnovers have plagued Rider in the first two games, as they allowed Bucknell to score 16 points off of 29 turnovers. Although, in that game the Broncs managed to turn Bucknell over 26 times and score 14 points off of those turnovers.
The Broncs put up 39 shots against the Nittany Lions, making six of them while having 37 turnovers. Penn State capitalized on this by scoring 39 points off of turnovers. Rider was able to turn Penn State over 15 times, but was unable to take advantage of it, only scoring five points off of turnovers.
After a slow start, the Broncs are trying to learn from their mistakes in the double-loss weekend, and use their experience to mature as a team.
“It was definitely a good learning experience for us and we will use what we learned in our next game vs. Binghamton,” said Heller. “We are a young team so we need the leaders to be just that and the younger ones to keep being willing to learn just like they are. Our goals will change with each opponent we play but ultimately it’s obviously to win.”
Rider looks to rebound when it faces Binghamton (1-1) next. Having only one loss this season, an overtime upset versus St. Bonaventure, it seems as though Binghamton has no trouble getting points on the board. Milligan sees defense and aggressive rebounding as key for the Broncs to notch their first victory of the season against the Bearcats.
“In order for us to be successful we must take care of the ball, defend like we are capable of doing and rebound the basketball,” said Milligan.
Rider will host Binghamton in Alumni Gym Saturday at 2 p.m before hosting Pennsylvania on Tuesday at 7 p.m.