By Maria Eldridge
The Broncs lost some of their early season momentum and are currently struggling to get it back. As the campus cleared and many students were back in their hometowns, the Broncs continued their on-court work, suffering some heartbreaking losses along the way, resulting in a 4-7 record.
“We definitely struggled over break,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “We played some very good games but were not able to finish the way we wanted.”
Things did not improve on Thursday night as the Broncs’ offense was held in check. Rider fell to second place Fairfield (17-5, 10-1), 51-35.
Rider (10-12, 2-9 MAAC) is now looking to rebound and get back on track when it takes on Loyola (MD) (9-13, 5-6 MAAC) away from home on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Broncs will have to contain one of the top talents in the MAAC, Loyola senior Miriam McKenzie. The 5’10” guard ranks in the conference’s top 10 in points, rebounding, assists and steals.
Despite clinching some early wins, the break proved to be a rough patch in the Broncs’ otherwise successful first half of the season.
Senior Ali Heller sunk the game-deciding free throws against Farleigh Dickinson (10-12, 5-5 NEC) on Dec. 22 at Alumni Gym. Heller went 9-10 from the foul line with the final two points coming with 28.9 seconds on the clock, bringing the score to 69-68.
Junior Sironda Chambers had a strong night as well, scoring 13 points against the Knights. Last week, Chambers was suspended for the rest of the season after being declared academically ineligible.
Sophomore MyNeshia McKenzie began a rebounding run against FDU that continued steadily throughout the winter break schedule. McKenzie finished the 10 games with 63 rebounds, achieving a career-high of 16 rebounds during a conference game against St. Peter’s on Jan. 15. McKenzie is looking to turn this personal accomplishment into a team effort.
“Once we regain our identity and play with the same intensity, those close games will fall into our favor,” McKenzie said.
The Broncs continued to struggle last weekend, losing to Niagara (8-15, 5-6 MAAC), 69-53, and Canisius (10-12, 4-7 MAAC), 60-54. However, the tenacity on the floor that was key in the earlier games is becoming a team priority again.
“It’s always hard to see positives when you lose, but this team has passion that you can’t deny,” Milligan said. “This passion was very evident in the Canisius game, so we will not hold on to that and move on to our next opponent.”
The Broncs faced some adversity going into their Buffalo trip, having already lost Heller for potentially the rest of the season to a torn ACL. The injury occurred during their game at Iona (10-11, 6-4 MAAC) on Jan. 13. The three losses prior to the weekend was a period of adjustment due to the fact that Heller held a key position in the lineup.
“Our perimeter shooting has suffered with the loss of Ali considering she is one of the top shooters in the nation,” McKenzie said.
Despite the Broncs’ recent struggle, they are working to convert their hours on the court into a successful final leg of the regular season.
“We have developed a new level of want and desire that I am excited to see in our next games,” junior Carleigh Brown said.