Women's College Basketball
Niagara University 64, Rider University 59
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
LAWRENCEVILLE--The Rider University women's basketball team had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 64-59 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference loss to Niagara University on Saturday afternoon in Alumni Gymnasium.
"We didn't have it today," said head coach Lynn Milligan. "We had an opportunity to do something today and we didn't take advantage of it."
With Niagara (10-11, 5-5 MAAC) trailing 46-45, the Purple Eagles went on a 13-4 run, seven points by Lauren Gatto as Niagara took a 58-50 lead with 1:31 left in the game. Gatto finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
"Gatto is a very good player and scores in a lot of different ways," Milligan said.
The game had 11 lead changes.
Chambers made a foul shot with 54.4 seconds left and after two Purple Eagle free throws, Chambers made a layup with 31.7 seconds remaining to bring Rider to within 60-56 but Niagara went four for four from the free throw line to ice the game.
"Niagara came out tougher than we did," said Chambers. "Then it was too late to make a comeback. We never got into any type of flow."
Niagara made 23 free throws in the contest.
Also for the Purple Eagles, Kayla Stroman had 14 points and seven rebounds.
"Stroman is a First Team All-Conference player for a reason," Milligan said. "She does a good job getting the ball up the floor and that limited the opportunities we had to create turnovers."
Trailing 42-39, Johnson hit a three-pointer and Chambers hit a jumper as Rider took a 46-45 lead with 7:53 left in the game. Johnson had four of Rider's five three-pointers in the contest.
"Mikal came off the bench and gave us an offensive spark," Milligan said. "She stepped up and knocked down some shots and her defense is coming along as well. I though she played with confidence."
"We didn't seem to have that desire to win today," said Johnson. "That won't happen again. We'll be ready to play in the next game. I made some big shots but it's not about the shots and the offense, we just didn't play solid defense today. That was the biggest issue."
Trailing 23-17, Rider took a 27-25 lead with 1:32 left in the opening half on a 10-2 run, five points by sophomore Emily Fazzini (Wayne, Pa./Archbishop Carroll). Fazzini finished with five points in 23 minutes.
Niagara made two free throws in the final 1:08 of the opening half and the teams went into intermission tied at 27.
Rider opened the game shooting 3-15 (20 percent) from the field but ended the opening half shooting 5-11 (45 percent). The Broncs shot 32 percent (19-60) for the game with Niagara shooting 34 percent (20-59).
Niagara out-rebounded the Broncs 45-41, 18-16 on the offensive glass.
"They just out hustled us," Milligan said about the rebounding. "We got pushed under the rim a few times and out hustled on several loose balls."
Rider played the second half without senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame) who was limited to 10 minutes due to the after effects of the flu.
Filling in for Bopp, graduate student Carleigh Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Nazareth Academy) had her second strong game in a row with 12 points (two off her career high) and she added five rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes.
Brown had six points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists in Rider's win over Manhattan Thursday night.
"We said it after last game, Carleigh is going to give you everything she has," Milligan said.
Bronc leading scorer, junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds but was held scoreless for only the fourth time in her 81-game career. A preseason Second Team All-MAAC selection, McKenzie entered the contest averaging 14.3 points per game.
"MyNeshia didn't have it today," Milligan added.
13 of Rider's 21 games this season have been decided by seven or less points including both games against Niagara. The Purple Eagles defeated Rider 62-58 on January 18 at the 'Taps' Gallagher Center to sweep the season series. Niagara has won 21 of the 36 games all-time against the Broncs.
Rider hosts Fairfield at 5pm on Thursday in a MAAC doubleheader with the Bronc men hosting Niagara at 7:30pm. The Rider women upset the second place Stags 69-57 on January 27 at Fairfield.
"It's February and we are in the mix," Milligan said about being 5-5 in the MAAC. "Every game is really, really important and we have to understand that. We just weren't ready today."