Women's College Basketball
Rider University 73, Siena College 61
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y.--Senior Sironda Chambers (Wilmington, Del.) finished one off a career-high with 23 points and pulled down five rebounds as the Rider University women's basketball team won at Siena College 73-61 in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game Friday evening.
"I'm proud of the character of my team and how we bounced back from the 30-point loss at Iona," said head coach Lynn Milligan who picked up her 50th career win. "That Iona game (88-58 loss) was not enjoyable and we learned some valuable lessons."
Rider defeated the Saints for the first time since January 27, 2008.
"This feels good," said Chambers. "I needed to step up tonight and lead the team being a senior. We kept things one possession at a time and when I had the ball, I tried to either make a play or put my teammates in a position for them to make a play. We played together."
Leading 48-45, Rider (12-12, 7-6 MAAC) went on a 14-0 run, with five Bronc players hitting the scoring column, led by four points from freshman Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) as Rider led 62-45 with 7:47 left in the game.
Johnson finished with seven points, two rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes off the bench.
Siena responded with an 8-0 run before a Chambers layup made the score 64-53 Rider with 4:43 left in the contest.
Trailing 67-57, Siena cut the Rider lead to six but could get no closer as the Broncs made four free throws and a layup down the stretch to clinch the win.
Both teams made a living at the charity stripe with Rider making 24 (of 30) and Siena converting 27 (of 31) foul shots in the game. Chambers led the Broncs, making 14 of 15 free throws in the game.
This is only the fifth time in 34 tries that Rider has defeated Siena and the Broncs snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Saints.
Trailing 7-6 early in the opening half, Rider went on a 9-0 run, seven points by Chambers as the Broncs took a 15-7 lead with 13:12 left in period one.
Leading 15-9, back to back three-pointers by Johnson and sophomore Kornelija Valiuskyte (Lithuania) put the Broncs ahead 21-9 with 12:08 left in the first half.
Valiuskyte finished with eight points, two rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes off the bench.
"We had some foul trouble early in the game and we had to have other players step up,." Milligan said. "This was really a good 'team' win. Everyone seemed to be in foul trouble. I thought Kornelija had a solid game and was ready when her number was called."
Siena (9-15, 5-8 MAAC) responded by scoring eight of the next 10 points, cutting Rider's lead to 23-17, 9:08 before halftime.
Leading 26-21, Chambers was fouled on a three-pointer and made all three free throws, giving the Broncs an eight-point lead with 5:51 left in the opening period.
After Siena cut the Rider lead to six, freshman Taylor Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) made a three-point play as Rider led 32-23 with 4:23 left before halftime. Wentzel finished with four points and a rebound in 12 minutes of play.
Rider led 37-31 at intermission.
Leading 39-33, the Broncs scored five of the next seven points, two points each by senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame) and junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) as Rider opened up a 46-35 lead with 16:05 left in the game.
Bopp finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and three steals with McKenzie adding 12 points, eight rebounds (five offensive) and three steals.
Bopp now had 851 rebounds in her Rider career, passing Bronc Hall of Famer Kelly Eckardt for second place on the all-time rebounding list.
"It feels great that we had so many different players step up tonight," Chambers said. "It takes some pressure off me and takes pressure, really off everyone because our opponent doesn't know who is going to take that clutch shot and one player from Rider isn't forced to shoulder that load. I'm proud of the team."
Siena responded with an 8-0 run, getting to within three (46-43) with 14:47 left in the second period.
Rider was out-rebounded 40-39, 20-15 on the offensive glass.
"We gave up too many boards and we put Siena on the line too many times," Milligan said. "Beyond that, they really struggled to score against us, scoring only 34 points from the field."
The Broncs shot 41 percent (22-54) and made five three-pointers. Siena was held to 27 percent (16-59) shooting on the contest.
Lily Grenci led the Saints with 24 points.
The win puts Rider back in a fifth place tie with Canisius at 7-6 in the MAAC with five games left in the regular season. The seven conference wins ties the second best all-time MAAC record for Rider (2008-09). The most MAAC wins for the Broncs was 10 in 1999-2000.
This is Rider's eighth road win of the season after winning five on the road all of last season.
"I love winning and winning on the road," Milligan added.
This is Rider's 12th win of the season, surpassing its win total from 2011-12. Rider last had 12 wins in a season in 1999-200 when the Broncs went 14-14.
Rider hosts Loyola University Maryland on Sunday as part of an ESPN 3 doubleheader with the Bronc men. The Rider men host Marist College at 4pm in Alumni Gymnasium.
On Sunday, Rider will celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day with a free clinic for kids age 5-18 starting at 10:30a in the Student Recreation Center, adjacent to Alumni Gym.
"We feel good and we are playing with confidence," Chambers added. "We are taking things one game at a time."