Women's College Basketball
Marist College 62, Rider University 47
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
LAWRENCEVILLE--The Rider University women's basketball team lost to nine-time defending MAAC champion Marist College in the conference opener Friday evening in Alumni Gymnasium.
"We need to just keep taking steps," said head coach Lynn Milligan. "We are there but we need to play with more consistency. Defensively, it was a pretty good effort but offensively, we struggled to get shots, especially midway through the game."
For Rider (5-7, 0-1 MAAC), junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) had her 17th career 'double-double', scoring 14 points and adding 10 rebounds. McKenzie added three assists and a steal in 37 minutes.
"Marist is a good team," said McKenzie who has five 'double-doubles' on the season. "We take out of the game where we are at and what we need to work on."
Trailing 4-2 early in the contest, Rider went on a 9-0 run, three points by senior Sironda Chambers (Wilmington, Del.) as the Broncs took an 11-4 lead with 14:26 left in the opening half. Chambers finished with 10 points in 27 minutes.
Chambers entered the game shooting 87 percent from the free throw line, which is 36th nationally and went two for three in the game, breaking a streak of 17 made free throws in a row, dating back to December 16 at Pittsburgh.
"We come into every game thinking we can win and tonight was no exception," McKenzie said. "We don't back down from anyone. We started out strong and let things slip away."
Marist (6-6, 1-0 MAAC) responded with a 22-6 run, eight points by Casey Dulin as the Red Foxes went ahead 26-17 with 3:19 left in the first half. Dulin finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
"We need to be more proficient in the middle of games," Milligan said. "We didn't take advantage of a strong start."
Marist led 34-21 at intermission.
A three-point play by McKenzie cut the Marist lead to eight (34-26) with 19:16 remaining before the Red Foxes went on a 16-2 run, six points by Leanne Ockenden and Marist held Rider without a field goal over a 7:46 span as the Red Foxes opened up a 50-28 lead with 12:20 left in the game.
Ockenden led Marist with 18 points on seven for eight shooting and she was four for four from three-point range in the game.
"You saw tonight why Ockenden is an all-conference player," Milligan said.
Trailing 62-42, Rider finished the game on a 5-0 run, three points by freshman Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) for the final score.
Johnson finished with eight points in 17 minutes off the bench.
Also for the Broncs, senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame) had eight points and seven rebounds to go along with two steals and a block.
Marist out-shot Rider 46 percent (26-57) to 32 percent (17-54) and the Red Foxes had 18 assists to only six for the Broncs.
"Marist's offense is designed that way," Milligan said about the 18 Red Fox assists. "If you fall asleep, they are going to back cut all day. We got into the paint a little too deep on our offense and the post play wasn't as strong as we needed it to be."
The Red Foxes held a 32-20 points in the paint advantage.
Marist forced 18 Bronc turnovers and held Rider to 3-16 (19 percent) from three-point range.
"Marist makes you pay for every mistake," Milligan said. "We hesitated a few times and they (Marist) took advantage."
Former Northeast Conference rivals, Marist leads the all-time series 34-13 and the Red Foxes have defeated Rider 19 straight times, dating back to February 19, 2003.
This is Rider's 16th season in the MAAC and the Broncs are 4-12 in MAAC openers.
"We have 17 MAAC games left," Milligan said. "Are we that far off? No but I think we have a lot of work to do."
Rider and Marist meet again February 22 at 7pm in Poughkeepsie, New York.
The Broncs have lost three straight.
Rider travels to Manhattan College on Sunday for a 2pm MAAC contest.
The Jaspers opened conference play Thursday evening with a 73-66 road win at Saint Peter's University.
"This was only the first game of the conference season," McKenzie added. "We just need to build from here."