Women's College Basketball
New Jersey Institute of Technology 53, Rider University 51
LAWRENCEVILLE--Despite a 'double-double' from junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)), the Rider University women's basketball team lost the 2012-13 home opener Monday evening in Alumni Gymnasium to NJIT.
"We battled at the end," said head coach Lynn Milligan. "But we should not have even been in that situation. We did not play good basketball tonight at all."
McKenzie had 18 points and tied a career-high with 16 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass to record the 13th 'double-double' of her career.
"Mac is going to battle," Milligan said. "She is terrific offensive rebounder and she gave herself some good opportunities and helped us at the end with some tips and steals and by being aggressive."
McKenzie is now 14th on Rider's career rebounding list with 518.
Rider trailed by 16 points with 12:30 left in the game but had a chance to tie or win the game at the buzzer with the final shot blocked as time expired.
"There is no consolation in the come back tonight," Milligan said. "How we played is not who we are. We made some mistakes that really cost us and that really dug us into such a deep hole. To be out hustled and out worked on our home floor is disappointing. This is a wake-up call for us."
Senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. Of Notre Dame) made a three-point play with under a minute remaining to bring Rider to within four and two McKenzie free throws cut the NJIT lead to two with 39.6 seconds left for the final score. Bopp finished with six points and 11 rebounds, six on the offensive glass and moved into fifth place on the Rider rebounding list with 677.
Rider out-rebounded NJIT 53-34 and the Broncs held a 27-7 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to 13 second chance points to none for the Highlanders.
"We got the stop that we needed on the last play by NJIT," Milligan said about the final sequence with 10 seconds left. "We got a blocked shot and then we didn't get the ball up the court fast enough and had to force the final shot."
Trailing 45-31 with 9:20 remaining, Rider (1-1) went on a 9-4 run, five points by senior Sironda Chambers (Newark, Del./Hodgsen Vo-Tech.) and four points by McKenzie as the Broncs cut the NJIT lead to nine (49-40) with 6:43 left in the game. Chambers finished with eight points and four rebounds but was held to one for 12 shooting.
Two free throws each by McKenzie and freshman Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) got Rider to within six (51-45) with 4:20 left. Johnson finished with 11 points, including nine in the opening 20 minutes, making three from three-point range.
Trailing 14-11, NJIT (1-1) scored 16 of the next 20 points, to take a 27-18 lead with 2:27 left before the half as the Broncs went without a field goal for almost 10 minutes.
"We thought we were past doing that," Milligan said. "That lack of scoring came back and haunted us a little bit. We were young and made some bad decisions and the veteran players made some bad decisions as well. We didn't make shots at all."
Johnson broke the Rider scoring drought with 30 seconds left in the first period with a three-pointer before a Bronc turnover in front of the Highlander basket led to NJIT scoring at the buzzer as the Highlanders took a 29-21 lead into the locker room.
Rider went 0-12 from the field during the NJIT run and the Broncs were 4-27 shooting (15 percent) in the opening 20 minutes.
The Broncs were held to 11-60 (18 percent) from the field in the game and Rider turned the ball over 18 times with NJIT credited with nine steals. The Highlanders went 21-54 (39 percent) from the field.
Rider was kept in the game by NJIT committing 24 fouls as the Broncs went 25-34 from the free throw line. The Highlanders were nine for nine from the charity stripe.
"To our credit, the players kept driving to the basket and kept getting to the line," said Milligan. "That got us back in the game (without losing time off the clock) but we dug ourselves a deep, deep hole by not playing good basketball."
Trailing 6-3, Rider went on an 8-0 run, three points by Johnson as the Broncs went into the lead 11-6 with 12:14 remaining in the opening half.
NJIT responded with a 5-0 run before Johnson hit another three-pointer, making the score 14-11 Broncs with 10:16 remaining in the first period.
Rider and NJIT have split the two games in the all-time series with the Broncs winning in Newark 60-50 last season.
Rider's last two-point loss also came at home, against Fairfield on February 6, 2009 by a score of 67-65.
The Broncs host Mount St. Mary's on Friday evening at 7pm.
"We have to get back at work and get ready for Friday night," Milligan added. "We've taken the steps off the court to be successful and we thought we were taking the right steps on the court and that's what makes tonight so disappointing. We got knocked down a couple of pegs but we are going to get right back in the gym and do what we have to do to get ready for the next game."