Women's College Basketball
Central Connecticut State University 62, Rider University 61 (ot)
NEW BRITAIN, Conn.--Kaley Watras hit a basket with 14.5 seconds left in overtime, the ninth and final lead change of the contest as Central Connecticut State University defeated Rider University 62-61 on Friday evening in a non-conference women's basketball game.
"We didn't come out ready to play in the first half," said head coach Lynn Milligan. "That's disappointing. We let one slip away."
Trailing 58-57, senior Sironda Chambers (Wilmington, Del.) made two free throws as Rider (5-5) took a one-point lead with 2:07 remaining in overtime. Chambers was five for five from the free throw line and finished with 13 points and five rebounds, playing 42 minutes.
"Sironda struggled to find her shot," said Milligan who is now 6-5 in overtime games at Rider. "In the second half, she was able to get to the line and found some other ways to get to the rim and help us on offense."
Trailing 60-59, Chambers hit a jumper with 39 seconds left in o.t., as the Broncs retook the lead 61-60. Chambers had four of Rider's six points in the overtime period.
Trailing 40-26 with 16:39 left in regulation, Rider went on a 13-0 run, four points each by junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) and senior Dior Brown (Upper Darby, Pa./Upper Darby) as the Broncs got to within one, 40-39 with 12:00 left in the game.
"I'm proud of the effort in the second half," said Milligan. "We battled like heck to get back in the game."
McKenzie led Rider with 15 points and added seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals with D. Brown adding a career-high 13 points (on five for nine shooting) to go along with five rebounds (three offensive) off the bench.
"Dior sparked us off the bench," said Milligan. "She made some good reads within the offense. With some of the injuries that we had today, we needed another guard to step up and put some points on the board."
Trailing 43-39, Rider went on an 8-1 run, five points by McKenzie, as the Broncs went into the lead 47-44 with 8:29 left in the second half.
Trailing 55-50, CCSU used a 5-0 run to tie the game with 2:17 remaining in regulation, the sixth and final tie of the evening. Neither team was able to score in the final two minutes of regulation.
Leading 12-8, CCSU (5-4) went on a 19-9 run as the Blue Devils opened up a 14-point lead (31-17) with 38 seconds left in the opening half.
Chambers scored the last five points of the half, all in the final 21 seconds as Rider cut the CCSU lead to nine, 31-22 at intermission.
The Blue Devils scored 10 of the first 14 points in the second half and led by 14, 40-26 with 16:39 left in regulation.
Rider was out-rebounded 44-38.
CCSU shot 42 percent in the game to 36 percent for the Broncs. Rider shot 54 percent from the field in the second half as the Broncs mounted the comeback.
Rider attempted 16 shots from three-point range, making only three. "We took a couple too many threes," Milligan added.
The Broncs had eight blocks in the game, led by five blocks from senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame). Bopp finished with six points, eight rebounds and two assists before fouling out.
Former East Coast Conference rivals, Rider and CCSU last met on February 27, 1992 with the Blue Devils winning 75-66, 7,330 days ago. Rider leads the all-time series 5-3.
Since the 1981-82 season, Rider has won 12 of 29 overtime games.
Since 1977-78, Rider has been involved in 44 games decided by one point, including three games last season, one in 2010-11, one in 2009-10, two in 2008-09 and two one-point games, 11 days apart in 2007-08. Only five of the one-point games have been decided in overtime (3-2 Rider record) and the Broncs are 22-22 overall in the last 44 games decided by one-point.
The Broncs host St. Francis Brooklyn in the final non-conference regular season game on December 29 at 2pm in Alumni Gymnasium.
"St. Francis has a new coach and they are a different team from last year," Milligan said. "I expect a tough battle. After the holidays, we have to come back and be ready to go and defend our home floor."