Rider 81 Loyola Maryland 74 (ot)
Women's College Basketball
Rider University 81 Loyola University Maryland 74 (ot)
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
BALTIMORE, Md.--Trailing by 16 points with 5:50 left in regulation, the Rider University women's basketball team rallied to force overtime and the Broncs defeated the Loyola University Maryland Greyhounds 81-74 on Sunday afternoon in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game.
"We dig ourselves these holes and then we fight back and fight back," said head coach Lynn Milligan about the reoccurring theme of the season. "Today was just another of those games where we had to battle back. In the last couple of games, we didn't finish and today we did. It was a little more dramatic than we would have liked but the win is important, especially on the road. I'm proud of the effort."
Junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) led five Broncs in double-digits with 19 points. McKenzie pulled down 13 rebounds for her 19th career 'double-double' and added six steals and an assist in 39 minutes. McKenzie is now eighth on Rider's all-time rebounding list with 635.
"I thought MyNeshia played inspired basketball, especially in the second half," Milligan said. "Mac has a toughness that when you squeeze it out of her, it is pretty special to watch."
Tied at 70 with 2:17 left in overtime, freshman Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) hit a three-pointer and after a Greyhound layup, was fouled on another three-point attempt. Johnson made all three from the free throw line and that gave Rider (7-8, 2-2 MAAC) a 76-72 lead with 1:06 left. Johnson finished with 18 points, including four three pointers and had five steals in 29 minutes.
"Mikal seems to find a way to make big three-pointers," Milligan said.
"I missed a lot of shots in the first half and the coaches told me to keep at it and keep shooting," Johnson said. "My teammates kept working hard, moving off screens and getting me good opportunities and I started making them. I had to keep trusting my shot and they started to fall."
Loyola (6-9, 1-3 MAAC) cut the Rider lead to two points with 57 seconds left before the Broncs made five of six free throws in the final minute to clinch the win.
Rider was 8-11 from the free throw line in o.t. and 28-35 (80 percent) from the charity stripe in the game.
Trailing 60-44 with 5:50 left, Rider went on a 20-3 run, eight points by McKenzie and five by Johnson as Rider took a 64-63 lead with 55 seconds remaining in regulation.
"We all got together when we were down 16 and said 'we've got this, no one hang their head' and everyone on the team responded and as a team, we battled back," McKenzie said. "Loyola couldn't match our energy in the last 10 minutes of the game and in the overtime."
"We really picked things up in the later part of the second half," said Johnson. "We didn't play as strong as we needed to for the first part of the game. We kept saying that this was our game, it didn't matter what the score was and we worked our way back into it. We did what we had to do and it turned out well."
Trailing 65-64, senior Sironda Chambers (Wilmington, Del.) hit a jumper with 28 seconds left in the second half, giving the Broncs a 66-65 lead. Loyola made one of two free throws with six seconds remaining to force overtime. Chambers finished with 17 points, five rebounds, four steals and four assists before fouling out with six seconds left in the second half.
"Sironda was big and stepped up at the end of the game," McKenzie said. "She made some big plays down the stretch. It is good to know that even when we are down, we have the ability to fight back; it isn't something we are trying to do but when faced with the adversity, we know we can respond."
Tied 31-31 at the half, Loyola opened the second period on a 7-0 run, five points by Alyssa Sutherland as the Greyhounds took a 38-31 lead with 17:40 left in the game. Sutherland finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
A three-pointer by sophomore Emily Fazzini (Wayne, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) brought Rider to within 38-35 with 16:16 left in the second half. Fazzini finished with 10 points and four rebounds.
Loyola responded with an 18-5 run as the 'Hounds opened up a 60-44 lead with 5:50 left in regulation.
The Greyhounds opened the game by scoring 10 of the first 14 points and Loyola led 10-4 with 15:28 left in the opening half.
Rider responded with a 7-0 run, three points by Johnson as the Broncs took an 11-10 lead with 12:54 left in the first half.
Trailing 20-17, Rider went on an 8-2 run, three points each by Johnson and Fazzini as the Broncs went ahead 25-22 with 5:07 left in the first half.
Loyola went on a 7-0 run to take a 29-25 lead and the 'Hounds led 31-27 before Rider scored the last four of the half on two free throws by McKenzie and a jumper by senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame).
Bopp finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds (six offensive) for her 22nd career 'double-double' and fourth in seven games against Loyola. Bopp also had two assists and two blocks in 28 minutes.
Bopp has 797 rebounds, fourth on Rider's all-time rebounding list and four rebounds behind Shaunice Parker who had 801 from 2006-09.
McKenzie is averaging 18.3 points and 11.0 rebounds in MAAC competition this season.
"This was just another MAAC game," McKenzie said. "I am just trying to play consistent. The more consistent I play, the more consistent the team will be."
Loyola was led by 20 points, seven steals and five rebounds from Katie Sheahin.
The Greyhounds out-shot Rider 42 percent to 32 percent and the Broncs were out-rebounded 48-43.
This was the 40th meeting between Rider and Loyola with the Broncs winning for the 10th time. This marks the first overtime game between Rider and Loyola.
The game featured 10 ties and nine lead changes.
The teams meet again on February 17, 2013 in Lawrenceville, in a game televised on ESPN3 as part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
Rider is now 6-7 in overtime in 16 seasons of MAAC competition.
The Broncs are now 1-1 this season and 7-5 in six seasons under Milligan in overtime games. Rider is 13-17 since the 1981-82 season in overtime and this is the ninth time this season (in 15 games) that the contest was decided by seven or less points.
This is the second season in a row that Rider has opened MAAC play 2-2.
Rider entered the game averaging 56.9 points per game. The Broncs last scored 81 points on December 5, 2008 in a 92-81 loss to Iona College.
The 16-point deficit that Rider overcame for the win was the largest since Rider defeated Iona on January 29, 2005 by a 72-71 score after trailing by 18 points (60-42) with 11:58 left in the second half.
This was Rider's last trip to Baltimore in MAAC competition against Loyola as the 'Hounds are joining the Patriot League in 2013-14.
Rider makes its annual trip to Western, New York, taking on Niagara University January 18 at 7pm before a re-match against Canisius College on January 20 at 2pm.
This was Rider's seventh win of the season, six of them coming away from Alumni Gymnasium.
"We are looking to continue our strong play on the road," Milligan said. "Niagara is a very good team and obviously the one-point loss to Canisius last week is still fresh on our minds."