Rider falls to 0-6 in MAAC play in loss to Fairfield

By Dylan Manfre

During her postgame press conference on Jan. 2, Rider Head Coach Lynn Milligan expressed her excitement to play the following day.

It came after the Broncs played one of their best games of the pandemic-riddled campaign, scoring a season-high in total points (59).

What transpired on Jan. 3, however, may not have been to Rider’s delight since the Broncs ended the weekend still without a win in conference play after a 66-45 loss to Fairfield.

“We felt prepared and ready to go today. Our shots weren’t falling today and that’s been, obviously, a little bit of a common theme for us for most of the season,” Milligan said. “The ball just did not drop for us today.”

Throughout the game, and series for that matter, Rider did an exceptional job of exploiting Fairfield’s 2-3 zone defense. Multiple times, the Broncs found post players such as sophomore center Victoria Toomey and Daija Moses low in the paint early in the game. Exposing the zone starts with trying to get the ball down low. That is where Toomey comes in.

“As a post [player] you really want to find those open spots in the zone,” Toomey said. “You don’t really want to run to a spot the defense is just standing at. I think today definitely, compared to yesterday, our pace was better on the inside.”

Toomey finished the game with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, and started the game 3-for-3. The Dunmore, Pennsylvania, native has shown a lot of upside in her first season as a starter, compared to the 5.7 minutes per game she saw off the bench last season.

“Vic knows I have really high expectations for her,” Milligan said. “We want her to be aggressive inside. We need a post presence and obviously Victoria is the person we want that to be. You definitely see some great things coming from Vic and I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to see a lot more as we move forward.”

Toomey is recently coming out of concussion protocol and said she’s played feeling 100% throughout the series.

The third quarter in particular has been a point of concern for the Broncs this season and despite a good start on Jan. 2 coming out of the intermission, Rider dug itself a bit of a hole going down as many as 15 points\. One positive though was that the Broncs scored the most points in a quarter for the day; 17 points on 42% shooting.

“We kind of went basket for basket which is not the plan when you’re trying to get back in the ball game,” Milligan said. “We just didn’t get that big stop to get us into single digits which might have made a difference for us at the time.”

Preseason Player of the Year Lou Lopez-Senechal drained a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter and said “That’s in!” as her shot arched over the defense. She might as well have said that with every attempt she took. The Preseason All-MAAC First Team selection finished the game with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting. She had 27 points in the first game of the series.

Rider will play its next MAAC series on Jan. 7 and 8 against Niagara, which is recently coming off its first regular season series against the Iona Gaels. Niagara had been on pause the entire season due to coronavirus protocols.

Follow Dylan Manfre on Twitter for the latest on the women’s basketball team/

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