The Campaign

Fourth-Quarter Rally Comes Up Short for Rider at Fairfield

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
         
Release: February 26, 2017
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Courtesy: Neil Davis
FAIRFIELD, CT – The Rider University women’s basketball team ended the 2016-17 regular season on Sunday with a 53-49 setback versus Fairfield inside Alumni Hall. The Broncs (22-7, 16-4 MAAC) see their nine-game winning streak come to an end, while the Stags (16-13, 13-7 MAAC) swept the season series versus Rider.

The historic regular season comes to an end as Rider secured the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MAAC Championship Tournament. It is the highest-ever seeding for the program since joining the league.

“It was disappointing with our lack of aggressiveness in attack the zone until late in the game,” Rider University Head Coach Lynn Milligan said. “We settled for too many jump shots and did not get the ball inside enough. Again, I thought we played solid defense against a good team that executes really well, but we didn’t score the ball well and that hurt us today.”

Freshman guard Stella Johnson (Denville, NJ/Morris Catholic) led the offensive charge for Rider with a game-high 17 points thanks to 8-of-12 shooting. Johnson stuffed the stat sheet once again for the Broncs, coming up one rebound short of double-double, while adding one assist, one block and two steals. Senior center Julia Duggan (Marmora, NJ/Ocean City) was the other Bronc in double figures with 13 points. Duggan finished the game strong, scoring 11 of her points in the final frame. Duggan also grabbed 10 rebounds for her third straight double-double. She now is tied for the conference lead with 10 double-doubles this season. Duggan and Johnson combined to shoot 13-of-23 from the field, while the rest of the team shot just 6-of-35.

It was a balanced offensive attack for Fairfield as three different Stags scored in double figures, led by forward Kelsey Carey with 14 points to go along with nine rebounds. Point guard Kendra Landy chipped in 12 points thanks to 4-of-8 shooting from both the field and the charity stripe. Samantha Cooper was the other Stag in double figures with 11 points off the bench courtesy of hitting all three of her attempts from beyond the arc.

Rider would score on its first possession of the game on a jumper in the paint from Johnson. The Stags would answer with a 4-0 spurt over the next five minutes of play to take the lead as Rider would miss its next five shots and turn the ball over four times before freshman guard Safie Tolusso (Vevey, Switzerland (Honore d'Estinne d'Orves) drove to the basket for two to knot the contest at four.

The Broncs would answer to take the lead back and after a free throw from Carey brought the hosts to within one at 6-5, Rider would close out the quarter on a 5-0 run capped by a Tolusso trey to hold an 11-5 advantage after 10 minutes.

In the opening quarter, Rider held Fairfield to just 15 percent (2-13) shooting and forced five turnovers. The five points allowed in the first are the second fewest for the team this season as Rider surrendered just three points in the first quarter against Manhattan on January 5.

Fairfield would respond in the second with an 11-3 run to open the second and take a 16-14 edge midway through the quarter following a basket in the post from Carey. The Stags would make it a 17-5 run following an old-fashioned three-point play from Casey Smith with four and a half minutes left in the half. Smith’s free throw gave the hosts a six-point edge at 22-16.

Johnson would score the next four points for Rider and a lay-up in transition from Broncs senior guard Taylor Wentzel (Pittsburgh, PA/Baldwin) made it a two-possession game at 26-22 in favor of the Stags with under a minute remaining in the half.

After a stop on the defensive end, Rider sophomore guard Lexi Posset (Pittsburgh, PA/Beaver Area) would draw contact and hit one of two free throws to close the scoring in first half with Fairfield taking a three-point lead at 26-23 into the break. In the second quarter the Stags came alive offensively, knocking down 60 percent (9-15) of their shots and dishing out five assists on nine made field goals.

The two teams would score two points apiece through the first three minutes of the third before a lay-up from Duggan brought the Broncs to within one at 28-27. After a Stag turnover, Rider would take a 30-28 lead courtesy of a trey from the wing by Johnson. Rider took its first lead since midway through the second thanks to holding the Stags without a field goal for over five minutes.

Fairfield would tie the game at 30 as Cooper would hit a pair of free throws. The Stags would then take the lead and snap their field-goal drought with a lay-up from Kendra Landy. Fairfield would make it a 7-0 run following a Cooper three with the shot clock winding down. After a stop, the Stags would sink a pair of free throws to take a seven-point lead at 37-30. On the final possession of the third, Posset’s three-point attempt would rim out as Rider trailed by seven heading into the fourth quarter.

Rider would score four of the first five points in the fourth to pull within four at 38-34 with just under seven minutes to play thanks to a pair of free throws from Wentzel. Fairfield would later stretch its lead to double digits at 45-35 following a corner triple from Cooper. The 10-point advantage would be the largest for either side in the contest.

The Broncs would answer and cut the deficit to five at 47-42 courtesy of a pair of free throws from junior Kamila Hoskova (Brno, Czech Republic (Sportovni Gymnazium Ludvika Danka) with under two minutes remaining in the game.

Duggan had a monster fourth quarter, scoring 11 points for Rider. With 33 seconds remaining in the game, she converted a three-point play to pull the Broncs within two at 51-49. On the next possession, Fairfield ran the shot clock down and Carey grabbed on offensive board. She pulled down her own miss and scored with two seconds remaining in the game to give Fairfield a 53-49 edge.

On the final possession of the game, a Bronc three-point attempt from the top of the key rimmed out as the final horn sounded.

For the game, Rider shot just under 33 percent (18-58), while Fairfield knocked down over 38 percent (19-49) of its shots from the field. The Stag reserves outscore the Bronc bench, 16-3, in the game. Rider struggled from three-point range, knocking down just 3-of-24 attempts and the visitors also committed 13 turnovers.        

The Broncs will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MAAC Tournament and will return to action on Friday, March 3, at 3:30 pm at the Times Union Center in Albany against the winner of No. 7 Monmouth and No. 10 Manhattan match-up. Rider swept the regular season series versus both the Hawks and the Jaspers.

Be sure to follow RiderAthletics on Twitter and go to GoBroncs.com for updates leading up to the MAAC Quarterfinals.   
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The Campaign