Women's College Basketball
Rider University 68, Lafayette College 64
EASTON, Pa.--Led by a career-high 24 points from senior Sironda Chambers (Newark, Del.), the Rider University women's basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak with a 68-64 win at Lafayette College on Tuesday evening at the Kirby Sports Center.
"I wouldn't use the phrase 'must win' but tonight's victory was very important," said head coach Lynn Milligan. "Coming off the loss at Princeton and how hard we practiced the last four days and worked some things out, it was important for the players to experience success as a result of their hard work. We needed a win for the growth of the team."
Chambers added seven rebounds and was a clutch five for five from the free throw line in 33 minutes.
"When Sironda gets going, she is such a spark for us," Milligan said. "She is very difficult to guard."
"Early on, I was trying to get everyone involved in the offense," said Chambers. "That was my way to spark the team. When the game gets close, we have solid senior leadership and that has a calming influence on the rest of the team. That's the time for me to step in and say we've got this and to keep us playing our game."
Trailing 48-44, Rider (2-3) went on a 9-0 run, four by Chambers and three by junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) as the Broncs went back into the lead 53-48 with 8:15 left in the game, the eighth and final lead change of the contest. McKenzie had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the 14th 'double-double' of her career and second of the season.
"This was a good ball game," Milligan said about the contest which also saw eight ties. "It was a fun game to coach and a fun game to watch. Both teams just really got after one another. I'm very pleased."
"My goal was to keep attacking on offense and play hard on defense," Chambers added.
Trailing 27-24, Rider went on an 8-0 run, four points by senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame) as the Broncs took a 32-27 lead with 2:07 left in the opening half and the team went to intermission with Rider leading 32-29. Bopp scored the first six points of the game and finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, five blocks, two steals and two assists in 34 minutes.
"To have Caitlin start off strong was huge," Milligan said. "It was important for us to establish ourselves inside early in the game."
Chambers hit a three-pointer, giving Rider a 35-29 lead before Lafayette responded with a 10-0 run as the Leopards retook the lead 39-35 with 16:37 left.
"Lafayette switched to a zone and we went a little cold," Milligan said. "We kept after it and kept shooting and got some good looks."
Lafayette out-rebounded the Broncs 54-35, 27-12 on the offensive glass.
"We flowed well tonight," Milligan said. "We made the extra pass when we needed to and that is a direct result of the extra work we did in practice. We got meaningful minutes from everyone who was on the floor tonight. We aren't built around just one player, we are a veteran team and a deep team."
Also for the Broncs, freshman Manon Pellet (Marseille, France) had eight points and four steals with graduate student Carleigh Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Nazareth Academy) adding six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes.
"I knew what we had to do but we weren't doing it how we needed to do it," C. Brown said. "My goal coming into any game is to get everyone together, settle everyone down and get us back to the things that we do well, instead of playing how the other team wants us to play."
"We got solid senior leadership tonight," Milligan added. "Carleigh and the rest of the seniors, when we needed them, they stepped up and kept things calm."
"We've been through a lot," C. Brown added about the senior class, "We've been through things together and the four of us realize that this is our last chance to leave our mark and have a chance to take things all the way."
Rider went 16-22 from the free throw line and the Broncs shot 25-61 (41 percent) from the field.
Both of Rider's wins this season have come on the road.
This was the 30th meeting all-time between Rider and Lafayette with the Broncs winning against their former East Coast Conference rival for the 10th time. Rider defeated the Leopards 64-56 in Alumni Gym to open the 2011-12 season. Rider has won four of the last five in the series.
Rider travels to Rhode Island for the Brown Classic, taking on the host Bears December 1 and either New Hampshire or Quinnipiac on December 2.
"We worked hard in the last few days in practice to become a better team and tonight was a step in that direction," Milligan added. "Our challenge is to carry this momentum into the next game."
"We have to come out with the same intensity, both on offense and defense," Chambers said about the upcoming games. "We need to play our game."