By David Pavlak
A season that showed so much promise came to a screeching halt, as the Rider women’s basketball team (11-19, 3-15 MAAC) dropped their opening round MAAC tournament game in overtime to Iona (11-20, 7-11 MAAC), 61-60.
Rider began the game with tempo on its side, outscoring its opponent in the first half 25-14. However, the team faced an uphill battle during the second half.
The Broncs were unable to convert from the field for the first 10 minutes of the second half, an opening which the Gaels took advantage of by going on a 21-2 run, giving them the lead.
“We got a little caught up in the commotion of the game,” said junior Carleigh Brown. “Being young, we had to refocus and get everyone’s heads back where they needed to be.”
The Broncs would not go quietly though, as they continued to fight to get back into the game. Trailing by two in the final seconds, Brown grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw and pushed the ball up the court. Freshman Emily Fazzini missed the game-tying shot, but sophomore MyNeshia McKenzie was there to grab the rebound and put the ball in at the buzzer.
“We knew that it was going to be a battle,” Brown said. “Iona is a good team and whenever we play them it’s a dog fight. Getting ourselves in the position to take it to overtime was a team effort and the determination for MyNeshia to get that rebound and put it in was evident. And that is something that is common throughout our team. We all know what we have to do to put ourselves in successful situations.” After opening the season 10-6 and setting the mark for their best season to date, the Broncs dropped their last 13 of 14 to close out the season, with the final loss coming on the biggest stage.
“We are more determined than ever,” Brown said. “We all know that the end of the season is not how we wanted it to be. We know we have a lot to prove next year and have revenge games to look forward to. We are going to put in the hard work necessary in the off-season to do what we need to win next season.”