By Cameron Fitzpatrick
A commanding 76-53 win against Manhattan on Jan. 30 continued the women’s basketball team’s dominance in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) and pushed its current winning streak to a program-best 13 games.
The win moved the Broncs to an overall record of16-2, furthering their best start in the history of the program since becoming a Division 1 program in the 1982-83 season.
The first quarter saw the Broncs fall behind with an early shooting slump. However, defensive efforts were stout under the rim and around the perimeter, keeping the Jaspers from pulling away early. By the end of the quarter, the Broncs were tied 14-14 and looking for an offensive spark.
Rider came into the second quarter to shoot efficiently and put together scoring runs of 7-3 to start the quarter and an 8-0 run from 4:59 to 1:40 in the middle of the period. The offense was able to feed off of the stout defense which made way for easy fastbreak points.
The team shot 66.7% from behind the three-point arc and 73.3% from the floor in the quarter. A buzzer-beating block by senior forward Lea Favre had the team heading into halftime up by a score of 40-28.
“We’re built on our defense,” Head Coach Lynn Milligan said. “People watch us on offense and see Stella [Johnson] or Amari [Johnson] put numbers up, but it’s our defense that fuels our offense.”
The offense continued its surge into the third quarter. The Broncs thrived by the three-point shot and defense.
“I thought that the third quarter was one of the more solid quarters we played all year,” Milligan said.
Turnovers were kept to a minimum in an all-around effort. Elevated by its 15-5 scoring run from 7:29 to 2:04 left in the quarter, the team held a controlling 61-43 lead into the final quarter.
The Broncs extended their lead by five points and ended the game with a final score of 76-53.
Senior guard Amari Johnson finished with her fifth straight double-double with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Senior guard and MAAC Player of the Week Stella Johnson posted 24 points and 7 rebounds.
“I think that we are the best and we play like the best, and we are the team to beat [in the MAAC],” Amari Johnson said.
Despite the 13-game winning streak, Milligan is not ready to say she is content with the team just yet.
“There is no content here,” Milligan said. “We’re very much of a week-to-week, game-to-game type of team. We certainly don’t look back and we certainly do not look ahead.”
The Broncs are now 8-0 at home and are 9-0 in MAAC play. With teams like Fairfield and Marist right behind, Rider will try to control its own destiny as it eclipses the halfway mark of the season.
The Broncs will return home on Feb. 1 as they face Monmouth for the first of the teams’ two matchups this season. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be on ESPN3.