Broncs move to 2-0 with Western New York sweep
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NY – Robin Perkins (Willingboro, NJ/Trenton Catholic [Saint Francis Univ.]) scored 22 of her career-high 29 points in the first half as the Rider University women’s basketball team led wire-to-wire in a convincing 78-58 road victory at Niagara Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Broncs (5-2, 2-0 MAAC) sweep the MAAC’s Western New York road trip and improve to 2-0 in league play for the first time the program’s 20 years in the conference. Niagara falls to 3-4 (1-1 MAAC) with the loss.
Rider shot 50.0 percent (22-44) for the second time this season, including 58.3 percent (7-12) from long range. The Broncs also made their free throws at a 75.0 percent (27-36) clip and outrebounded the Purple Eagles, 39-26. Perkins made 10-of-15 from the floor, 5-of-6 from long range and all four of her free-throw attempts. She also added five rebounds. Julia Duggan (Marmora, NJ/Ocean City) added 16 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists, while Taylor Wentzel (Pittsburgh, PA/Baldwin) matched her career-high with 13 points, including 11-of-15 shooting from the free-throw line. Stella Johnson (Denville, NJ/Morris Catholic) also chipped in with nine points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“We’re in the second game of a long road trip and a long two weeks and I needed my seniors to step up and play good basketball on the road. That’s how you start to become a good team, when your seniors can step up in a position where it’s not always easy,” said Rider Head Coach Lynn Milligan.
“The second game of a long road trip should be the harder of the two. So I thought, in particular Julia and Robin really did a great job and Taylor down the stretch - they were fouling her for the last five minutes and I thought she stepped up and hit some free throws. But we need our seniors to lead this young team and I thought they did that today.”
Niagara featured four scorers in double figures, led by Kaylee Stroemple with 15. Tiffany Corselli added 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Morgan Baughman added 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from long range. Preseason All-MAAC First Teamer Victoria Rampado was held to 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting and six rebounds.
“We knew that we had to neutralize Niagara’s size and their post scoring because that’s where they get most of their looks. I thought defensively, besides one little hiccup at the end of the third quarter, we were absolutely fantastic. We made those kids earn every shot they took. And that’s what we needed to do today.”
The Broncs immediately jumped out to a lead, scoring the game’s first five points and 11 of the first 14, and never trailed. Perkins made her first six field-goal attempts, including four from long range, to help Rider build the lead, which reached its highest point of the half (41-23) on a pair of her free throws with four seconds left in the period.
Rider shot 61.5 percent (16-26) from the floor, 62.5 percent (5-8) from long range and 80.0 percent (4-5) from the free-throw line in the first half. Perkins had 22 points at the break on 7-of-9 shooting overall and 4-of-5 from long range. She also made all four of her free-throw attempts and grabbed four rebounds. Duggan also added 10 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting and made three steals. Rampado and Corselli had six points apiece at the break for Niagara.
The Broncs extended to their largest lead, 53-29, on a pair of Duggan free throws at the 2:10 mark of the third quarter. But Niagara went on a 10-0 run to close out the period and cut the deficit to 53-39 after 30 minutes. Corselli scored six of the 10 points.
Rider extended its lead to 24 points on a pair of Duggan free throws with 2:10 left in the third quarter, before Niagara gave its last best effort at a comeback, scoring the final 10 points of the quarter to cut the deficit to 53-39 after 30 minutes. But Rider scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to push the lead back to 21 points, 60-39. Niagara methodically whittled the Broncs’ lead down to 12, 69-57, before Rider scored nine of the games’ final 10 points to account for the 78-58 final score.
“I think we had our kids ready. The posts were ready for the challenge. Julia, in particular, was ready for it,” said Milligan. “I thought tonight, our defensive positioning was on. I thought our guards were in the right spot at the right time to make those entry passes to Rampado a little more difficult than they’ve probably been for her. And I thought Julia did a great job on Rampado. I think we did a great job on Stroemple as well. They didn’t get those easy, open drives to the basket that we’ve seen them get. I thought our help side was really good, we drew a couple of charges. But I think it started with the guard pressure, making the pass harder and making the catch harder.”
The Broncs return to non-conference action Thursday, when they travel to Lehigh. Tipoff from Stabler Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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