By Ryan Connelly
Last year’s MAAC runner-up, the women’s basketball team, had a rough start to the 2017-18 season. Against Bucknell, Rider came up short with a final score of 76-71, and in the game against Navy, the Broncs struggled more as it lost, 63-44.
Head Coach Lynn Milligan said, “This is a brand new team with new players. We are working hard to create our own identity. It’s not the start we wanted. We played two very good teams, and we’re looking to get back in the gym and work hard for our next game.”
In the season opener against Bucknell, Rider came out firing, ending the first quarter leading 23-9. The Bison slowly came back throughout the game. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, Bucknell shaved Rider’s lead down to 56-50. This time it was the Bison who came out hot, outscoring Rider 26-15 in the fourth to end the game.
Sophomore guard Stella Johnson was the leading scorer for the Broncs with 18 points, including two three-pointers. Johnson also had six steals and one assist. Junior guard Lexi Posset came second on the team in points scored with 12. Posset had six assists and one steal. Senior guard Kamila Hoskova was also a big impact on the game, scoring 11 points with two assists, five steals and only two personal fouls.
Part of the reason why the Broncs were able to hold on late in the game was because of their shooting. From the first half to the second, Rider’s shooting percentages all decreased. In the first half the Broncs shot 41.67 percent. In the second half, they shot 35.39 percent. From the three-point line, Rider shot 25 percent in the first half and only 23.08 percent in the second. Finally, from the free-throw line, Rider shot 60 percent in the first half, again dropping down to 53.33 percent in the second half.
Unlike the Bucknell game, Rider struggled much more against Navy. Navy dominated the court for a majority of the game. In the second quarter, the Midshipmen managed to outscore the Broncs 22-7. The biggest lead of the game was during the second quarter when Navy went up by 23.
By halftime, the score was 41-20, Midshipmen.
Hoskova had an outstanding game, putting up 19 points, shooting 70 percent from the field and 100 percent from the free-throw line. She also went 1-1 on threes, had three assists, one block and three steals.
“Moving forward into the season I think we are getting more confident with every game. We can make really good plays and defend. We just need to be more consistent in doing that for the whole game. I believe and feel that we can be a really good team this year.” said Hoskova.
Freshman guard Jaiden Morris was second in scoring for Rider with nine. She went 2-for-3 from the three line and had two blocks and personal fouls. Johnson struggled in this game, not recording any points, going 0-for-4 from the field.
As a team, the Broncs shooting went up from first to second half. Field goal percentage went from 25.81 percent in the first to 30 percent in the second. The shot from the three range improved tremendously going from 11.11 percent in the first, to 40 percent in the second. From the free-throw line it went down from 75 percent to 57.14 percent.
Milligan said, “Typically a team’s defense can be further ahead than their offense early in the season. Obviously we have to look at the type of shots we’re getting and continue to trust our offense to get great shots and our percentage will go up.”
Rider looks to get its first win of the season at home against Holy Cross on Nov. 18 at 2 p.m.