By Dylan Manfre
The women’s basketball team scored a 67-46 victory on Nov. 28 against the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and a 66-60 loss against Navy on Dec. 2, concluding a two-game homestand.
After the Broncs suffered a 51-point loss to Boston College on Nov. 25, Rider’s agenda was simple — play its brand of basketball and slow down the Highlanders’ offensive attack. Senior guard Kelly Guarino entered the game averaging 13.9 points-per-game and scored double-digits in all but one of NJIT’s contests.
“One of our scouts stressed that [Guarino] was their main scorer and she said if we stopped her, we would win,” said junior guard Stella Johnson.
The two programs, which met for the fourth time in history, traded baskets until midway though the first quarter when Rider went on a 13-2 run. The Broncs extended their lead to double digits at the 7:31 mark of the second quarter after graduate student guard Mia Farmer hit a three pointer right in front of the Highlander’s bench.
“Obviously, we’re happy to get the [win] tonight at home,” said Rider Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “The game was a grind which I think we were expecting, but I thought when we needed to get ourselves going and we needed to make some plays, Stella [Johnson] and [junior forward] Lea Favre both stepped up for us tonight.”
Rider’s offense translated into the second half when a layup from Johnson gave the Broncs a 14-point lead. It would be their largest lead of the game. Favre finished with a season-high 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
“They were matching up pretty good but tonight we’re pretty good at finding the open person,” Favre said. “Even if at the beginning we’re not in flow, we’re still finding the right person. We had a good week of practice. We were playing really well with each other.”
Another key to the Broncs’ success was their tenacious defense. Freshman guard Amanda Mobley was seen diving for multiple loose balls. Johnson stripped five steals, one shy of tying her season-high. In all, the Broncs recorded 14 steals and forced 26 turnovers which translated into 32 points off turnovers. It was the seventh game NJIT had committed double-digit turnovers.
“Defensively, we were very strong in personnel to force 26 turnovers. I think [this] is a good step for us,” Milligan said.
Rider welcomed Navy on Dec. 2 and the matchup proved to be a strict battle of a prolific offense and a stout defense. The Broncs entered the game averaging just over 64 points per game while the Midshipmen forced over 24 turnovers per game.
Navy’s defensive presence forced Rider to commit 18 turnovers.
After she missed the past four games due to a hip injury, senior point guard Lexi Posset played as if she hadn’t left the court. Posset scored 13 points and shot 3-for-9 from behind the arc. She dished out four assists, grabbed as many rebounds and recorded a steal.
Another positive take away from the game was Rider’s ability to draw fouls. As a team, the Broncs made 11-of-14 from the free throw line.
“That obviously has to be something we continue to focus on,” Milligan said. “Early in the season we’ve [struggled] with that, so I’m happy we got to the line and took advantage of those points.”
Favre and Johnson led the way for Rider with 14 points.
The Broncs prepare for a two-game road trip against Binghamton on Dec. 8 and Bucknell on Dec. 15. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.