By Jacob Tiger
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — In its 74-58 win against the Rider’s women’s basketball team, Iona’s key to victory was simple: win in the trenches.
Over the season, a lack of rebounding tormented the Broncs at nearly every turn, and it ended up being their downfall, as the Gaels owned the paint and accrued a wealth of offensive rebounds in the opening game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament.
“To me, rebounding is want and desire,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan after the season-ending loss. “We were standing around just a little too much hoping that shot went in, so we were pretty much one-and-done… they were not.”
Iona finished with a 17-10 advantage on the offensive glass, primarily because of Iona’s Ketsia Athias who had nine offensive rebounds.
The ripple effects of this advantage could be seen all over Iona’s offense. The Gaels took 28 layups, many of them being quick putback lay-ins by Athias.
All together, Iona scored 32 points in the paint, 16 more than Rider.
Rider lost by 16 points.
“We lost to them three times. Iona had our number this year. There’s no question about that,” said Milligan. “They played into some of our weaknesses, they’re physical with us, they made big shots.”
The Gaels made many big shots in the game, as their presence under the basket collapsed the defense, leading to wide-open kick-out threes on the arc. Iona had 20 assists on 29 field goals.
“We talked a lot about giving up the good shot for the great shot, and our players just found each other and where they could get those great shots,” said Iona Head Coach Billi Chambers.
Iona had no trouble capitalizing on those opportunities, shooting 50% (11-22) from three. The Gaels’ efficiency at such high volume speaks to how easily they were able to find space and set their feet for an easy bucket.
“They got kick-out threes. We played 25, 30 seconds of great defense, they get… an offensive rebound, kick-out three. Those are backbreakers,” said Milligan. “We’ve talked about that all year long. We just gave other teams too many chances.”
No matter what the Broncs were doing offensively, their defense, or lack thereof, prevented them from doing any real damage to Iona’s lead. Iona almost always answered back with a score of its own, usually without having to give as much effort.
“We’re not gonna make excuses for things that we did or didn’t do well,” said Milligan. “The bottom line is we didn’t get the job done.”