Women's College Basketball
Rider University 48 Manhattan College 41
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
RIVERDALE, N.Y.--Offense wins games, defense wins championships.
Behind just enough offense from junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) who had 18 points and senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame) who added 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, the Rider University women's basketball team defeated Manhattan College 48-41 in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game on Sunday afternoon.
"As long as you have at least one more point than your opponent," joked head coach Lynn Milligan after the game. "Seriously, that was an outstanding defensive effort. It was terrific. We came in following the scout and we kept the pressure on the entire game."
This is the 15th time under Milligan that Rider has held a team below 50 points. The Broncs last held a team to 41 points against Stony Brook, on December 6, 2011 in a 53-41 win.
"We've been working on stepping up our defensive effort the last few games," Bopp said. "We know that if we play solid defense all 40 minutes, we will win the game, no matter if our shots are falling or not."
"Caitlin had a good nose for the ball and good reads from the off side," Milligan said. "Manhattan played a 1-3-1 and we were still able to get her touches. That's a tough thing to do."
For Bopp, this was her 21st career 'double-double' and third of the season.
"I got hit in the eye at the beginning of the game," Bopp said about missing the first eight minutes of the game after being struck 16 seconds into the contest. "Coach Milligan kept harping on having us win the battle on the boards and once I got back in, that was my main focus."
Leading 32-26, Rider (6-7, 1-1 MAAC) used a 7-0 run, with four different Bronc players scoring to open up a 39-26 lead with 8:55 left in the game.
Trailing 44-33, Manhattan closed to within six points on the strength of a 6-1 run with 22 seconds left but that was as close as the Jaspers would get as Rider made three of four free throws to clinch the victory.
Both teams struggled on offense early with Rider opening up an 11-4 lead with 8:59 left in the opening half with four points coming from McKenzie.
"MyNeshia knows what she has to do and the level we need her to play at," Milligan said. "I thought she played very confident today. When MyNeshia and Caitlin are hitting the offensive glass like they did today, we are going to be in a good spot."
Rider out-rebounded Manhattan 40-31, 15-11 on the offensive glass.
McKenzie is averaging 16 points and nine rebounds in her first two conference games of the season with Bopp averaging 12 points and 12.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and a steal in her first two MAAC contests.
Manhattan tied the game at 13 with 4:52 left in the first period on the strength of a 9-2 run.
Leading 17-15, Rider closed the opening half on a 7-1 run, five points by McKenzie and the Broncs led 24-16 at the break. Rider held Manhattan without a field goal for the final 3:52 of the first half and held the Jaspers to six field goals and 27 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
Rider expanded its lead to 10 (28-18) with 18:01 left before the Jaspers closed to within six (32-26) with 12:17 left in the contest.
Also for Rider, freshman Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) had six points in 24 minutes off the bench with senior Sironda Chambers (Wilmington, Del.) adding five points, three rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes.
"Sironda, at the end of the game played well," Milligan said. "She kept us in flow and helped limit our turnovers."
The teams combined for 39 turnovers.
Manhattan was led by Shayna Ericksen who had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Rider had four blocks in the game, two each by Bopp and graduate student Carleigh Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Nazareth Academy). Brown added a point and three rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
Rider shot 33 percent (15-46) with Manhattan shooting 31 percent (15-48).
The difference in the game was at the free throw line with Rider making 17 of 23, compared to 9 of 15 for the Jaspers.
This was the 35th meeting all-time between Rider and Manhattan with the Broncs winning for the ninth time. Manhattan had defeated Rider fourth straight times coming into the game.
The teams meet again in Lawrenceville on January 31 at 7pm.
This is Rider's first conference road win since February 18, 2011 when the Broncs won 79-73 in triple overtime at Niagara and it is only the second MAAC road win since the 2008-09 season when the Broncs won at Fairfield on February 23, 2009.
"You need to be able to establish yourself as a team that can win on the road in conference play," Milligan said. "To win your first MAAC road game is something we can obviously build on."
Rider hosts Canisius College at noon Thursday in a special Kid's Day game in Alumni Gymnasium.
"The Rider Department of Athletics does a great job with the Kid's Day promotion," Milligan added. "The gym will be loud, the players will be up for that and it will be a great atmosphere with great energy in the building."
"Whenever we have Kid's Day, it is always a good game," Bopp said. "They are screaming for you, no matter what and that gets us hyped and excited."