By Brandon Scalea
The women’s basketball team had a tough stretch last weekend, taking on Quinnipiac and Marist, the schools who finished first and second in the MAAC, respectively.
In the Feb. 26 game against Quinnipiac (27-3, 19-0 MAAC), who finished the season undefeated in conference play, the Bobcats opened up on a 17-0 run.
Rider (11-19, 8-12 MAAC) got on the board with a brief 5-0 run, featuring a 3-pointer from senior guard Kornelija Valiuskyte. She finished with 4 points and two rebounds in 18 minutes of play.
Quinnipiac regained control quickly, putting up 10 straight points. By halftime, the Bobcats held a commanding 54-19 advantage.
In the second half, Quinnipiac showed no mercy. Scoring 14 of the first 15 points, they held a 50-point lead with 16:11 remaining. It was Rider’s worst deficit of the season.
Despite the tough loss, sophomore center Julia Duggan had a notable game for the Broncs, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds. Sophomore guard Stephanie Mason also had 8 points off the bench.
Rider showed some life in the final five minutes of play, going on a 16-4 run to pull the deficit to 38. Quinnipiac went on to win by a score of 91-53.
On Feb. 28, the Broncs honored their seniors before the matchup with Marist (19-10, 15-5 MAAC). Valiuskyte, guards Lashay Banks and Emily Fazzini and forward Marritta Gillcrease played in their final game at Alumni Gym.
Milligan took a moment to comment on the impact the seniors have had on this program.
“These girls are not only terrific basketball players and students, but terrific young women,” she said. “They have left Rider women’s basketball in a better place. We will miss their leadership and work ethic.”
Rider led at the half, but a late run by the opposition gave the Red Foxes a 65-56 win.
Marist, winner of the last nine MAAC championships for women’s basketball, is now 40-13 all-time against Rider.
Banks led the Broncs with 12 points and six rebounds. Gillcrease added 9 points and nine rebounds. Fazzini had 8 points and three rebounds.
After winning eight of the last 11, Rider has lost three straight. The Broncs will participate in the MAAC Tournament as the 7th seed, and will face St. Peter’s at 11:30 a.m. on March 5.
Valiuskyte believes the team will need to be at the top of its game in the tournament.
“[We need] to take our best performance to Albany and bring home the Championship,” Valiuskyte said.