Rider brings new confidence into future games

Junior forward MyNeshia McKenzie has averaged 13.9 ppg this season. The Broncs will take on Marist and St. Peter’s this weekend.

By Tom Albano

The Broncs prepare for an important weekend as they take on Marist tonight and St. Peter’s on Feb. 24 in the final two road games of the regular season.

Rider (13-12, 8-6 MAAC) comes into these matchups following a successful weekend, when the team defeated Siena on the road, 73-61, and Loyola (MD) 56-41 at Alumni Gym in a game that was broadcast on ESPN3.

“This past weekend’s wins were big because they have given us some great confidence at the right time of the year,” Head Coach Lynn Milligan said. “We were coming off of a bad loss, so to be able to win two games was a big step in the character and toughness of our team.”

The win over Loyola also came on a day when the women’s and men’s basketball teams both scored wins in a doubleheader held in Alumni Gym, in addition to the broadcasting on ESPN3.

“It is always nice to have the opportunity to play on ESPN,” Milligan said. “For both the men’s and women’s teams to take advantage of that opportunity is not only good for the programs but the university as well.”

With their two wins over the weekend, the Broncs sit in fourth place in the MAAC. Their current position in the standings puts them one game ahead of Niagara and Iona and two games behind Fairfield. The team, however, wants to focus on each individual game.

“The MAAC conference is such a good conference that you have to be ready to play every day,” Milligan said. “We have to take it one game at a time and control what we can control. The standings will take care of themselves at the end of the season. We have put ourselves in a situation where every game matters and has an effect, so we will need to prepare ourselves.”

The Broncs now look ahead to the games against Marist and St. Peter’s as they emphasize the defensive side of their game.

“We are focusing on defense and tightening things up,” said Carleigh Brown, a forward graduate student. “We need to have an understanding of our opponents and prepare ourselves for what they are going to throw at us.”

Milligan said that every game that the team plays from here on out is big and she wants the team to win them all.

“Our expectations for them are to finish what we started,” Milligan said. “We need to be prepared to play our game for 40 minutes. If we can do that, we will be successful.”

After these two road games, the Broncs will still have two more games to play at home before the start of the 2013 MAAC Women’s Basketball Championship, to be held March 7-11 in Springfield, Mass. The team understands the importance of these remaining four games and wants to play its best in order to succeed and hopefully bring home the championship.

“The MAAC Championship brings a great deal of excitement,” Milligan said. “Everyone has a chance to play. Our focus is good, and the team is practicing very hard. We want to make sure we put ourselves in the best possible situations for success.”

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