Women's College Basketball
Rider University 57, Brown University 47
PROVIDENCE, RI--When a team hosts a tournament, it always plays what it considers the weakest team in the first round in order to secure a spot in the championship game.
That strategy backfired Saturday as the Rider Broncs upset host Brown in the first round of the Brown Classic.
Senior Sironda Chambers (Newark, Del.) scored 23 points, one shy of her career-high, to lead Rider to victory.
"They chose to play us first," said Chambers. "Our game went just as planned today. We had a game plan and stuck to it. I guess their plan did not work as well."
The Broncs (3-3) will now play in the Championship game Sunday against Quinnipiac, who defeated New Hampshire 60-53.
It marks the first time since the 2006-07 season that the Broncs reached the title game of an in-season tournament, having gone 0-2 in their last three tournaments.
With the scored tied at 36, Rider went on an 17-3 run, six points by Chambers and five points by sophomore Kornelija Valiuskyte (Siauliai, Lithuania), to take a 53-39 lead with 5:20 remaining. That was the seventh and final lead change of the game.
"Kornelija was the key to that run," said head coach Lynn Milligan. "She sparked us."
Chambers now has 47 points in her last two games.
"Sironda is a very dangerous player," Milligan said. "She's shooting the ball well right now."
"My teammates have been getting me the ball in great spots, so I've been feeling pretty good the last two games," Chambers said.
On the first day of the meteorological winter, snowflakes fell in the Ocean State. Inside the Pizzitola Sports Center, on the campus of Brown University, little fell, as Rider shot just .339 from the field while Brown shot .310 from the field.
Brown (2-5) out-rebounded Rider 46-32 but the Bronc defense caused 27 Bear turnovers. "Our defensive pressure was really good today," Milligan said. "That was in our game plan today. When we are not shooting as well as we want we need to turn up the pressure and we were able to do that today."
Rider out-scored Brown 9-2 to start the second half, four points by freshman Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn), to take a 33-32 lead with 17 minutes left. Johnson finished with seven points.
Brown out-scored Rider 7-1 over the final 4:13 of the first half to take a 30-24 lead at halftime.
Rider trailed 20-15 before going on an 8-3 run, six points by Chambers, to tie the score at 23-23 with 4:13 left in the half.
Trailing 15-11, Brown went on a 9-0 run, five points by Lauren Clarke, to take a 20-15 lead with 7:25 left in the first half. Clarke finished with a team-high 15 points.
With the score tied at 11, senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame) made consecutive lay ups to give Rider 15-11 lead with 11:16 left in first half. Bopp finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for her 20th career double-double and second of the season.
Rider junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield-Delco) added eight points and six rebounds.
Rider and Brown met twice before, here in Providence during the 1996-97 season (79-60 Brown) and in 1998-99 in the ECAC Holiday Festival in Worcester, Mass. (73-60 Brown).
Rider has now won two in a row. The Broncs ended a three-game losing streak with a victory at Lafayette Tuesday.
Brown beat Rider's MAAC-rival Saint Peter's in the season opener and defeated cross-state rival URI, but has lost five out of its last six.
The Broncs in a Title Game Sunday against Quinnipiac. "It is going to be a real challenge but we're up for it," Milligan said.
Sounds like a plan.