Rider 73 Saint Peter's 58
Women's College Basketball
Rider University 73, Saint Peter's University 58
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
JERSEY CITY--Behind 19 points and 12 rebounds from senior Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame), the Rider University women's basketball team won for the 14th time this season, including the ninth time on the road, scoring a 73-58 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory over Saint Peter's University on Sunday afternoon in Jersey City.
The 'double-double' was the 24th in Bopp's career and sixth of the season and she added three blocks in the game.
"We've played well on the road this year," said head coach Lynn Milligan. "We came out strong again which was nice. Our first half was solid. We didn't have the most consistent game and committed too many fouls but we crashed the boards and got the win. Rebounding is critical to our transition game."
Trailing 12-11, 6:13 into the contest, Rider (14-13, 9-7 MAAC) went on an 11-1 run, six points by freshman Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) as the Broncs took a 22-13 lead with 11:00 left in the opening half. Johnson finished with 10 points, two rebounds and a steal in 18 minutes off the bench.
Leading 26-18, Rider went on a 7-0 run, five points by senior Sironda Chambers (Wilmington, Del.) as the Broncs increased their lead to 15 with 5:24 left in the opening half. Chambers had 16 points, two rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes.
Rider led 40-26 at intermission, behind 12 first half points from Chambers.
"I thought Sironda played well today," Milligan said. "She did a good job looking to attack and when Saint Peter's took that away, she banged home a three-pointer. For her to be able to score in multiple ways takes pressure off Caitlin (Bopp) and MyNeshia (McKenzie)."
Trailing 46-27, Saint Peter's (2-25, 2-14 MAAC) went on a 7-0 run, cutting the Bronc lead to 12 with 15:50 left in the game.
Bopp scored Rider's next seven points as the Broncs increased the lead back to 16 (53-37) with 14:14 left in the contest.
"I tried to keep everyone calm during the Saint Peter's run," said Bopp who is second all-time on the Rider rebound list with 888. "We needed to dictate play to our strengths and not play how Saint Peter's wanted to play."
Saint Peter's cut the Bronc lead to 12 again with 12:45 remaining before Bopp scored six of Rider's next nine points as Rider led 62-45 with 8:28 left in the second half.
"Caitlin took the game over," Milligan said. "When we get her touches, she is able to go to work and she did a fantastic job."
Two free throws by graduate student Carleigh Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Nazareth Academy) completed a 9-0 run as Rider extended its lead to 22 (67-45) with 6:30 left in the game. C. Brown had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists in only 14 minutes of play. C. Brown is Rider's 16th all-time rebounder and now has 500 rebounds in her career.
"Five hundred rebounds is an awesome number for Carleigh," Milligan said. "I don't pay too much attention to numbers but she has been such a constant for us over the last four years. In games like this, she put up some numbers but she also calmed things down when Saint Peter's was making their run."
C. Brown also played in her 116th career game, tying for third best all-time with Shaunice Parker (2006-09). Brown, who has only missed one game in her four-year career, trails Sarah Homan (119 games) and Amanda Sepulveda (117 games) on the all-time games played list.
Saint Peter's made a late 8-0 run, cutting Rider's lead to 14 (67-53) with 4:21 left and the Peacocks got to within 13 with 2:03 remaining but could get no closer.
Also for the Broncs, junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) had eight points, eight rebounds and tied a career-high with both six steals and five assists.
Saint Peter's out-rebounded Rider 40-37. The Broncs had 10 steals and caused 20 Peacock turnovers. Rider scored 19 points off of turnovers.
Rider out-shot Saint Peter's 44 percent (24-54) to 38 percent (20-53).
The opening period output is the second highest of the season for Rider. The Broncs scored 41 points against Saint Peter's on January 24 in a 74-51 win at Alumni Gymnasium.
This was Rider's fourth MAAC season series sweep of the year with the Broncs also defeating Fairfield, Loyola Maryland and Manhattan twice.
This was the 53rd meeting between Rider and Saint Peter's with the Broncs winning for the 11th time.
Rider last won at the Yanitelli Center on February 5, 2005 when the Broncs were victorious 75-69 behind 25 points from Becky Hower.
"Yanitelli Center is a tough place for us to play," Milligan added. "While I wasn't happy with our consistency on defense, we definitely had some stretches where we played really well."
With Iona defeating Siena and Fairfield winning against Canisius, Rider has clinched a top six conference finish for the first time since the 1999-2000 season and the Broncs will avoid the opening round play-in games at the MassMutual Center. The conference tournament is March 7-11 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
"That's awesome news," Milligan said. "That makes today just a little bit better. I'm proud of that and this group really earned that."
"I tried not to think about it but today was my last 'away' game," Bopp said. "That was part of my motivation. My other motivation was to continue to help lead the revival of the program. For us to not play on the first day of the MAAC tournament is really big for us. We have a chance to go far in the tournament and that is a great feeling."
In 16 seasons in the MAAC, Rider has won 10 conference games only once. Winning for the ninth time in the MAAC in 2012-13, Rider has two home games remaining in the regular season, against Siena on March 1 at 7pm and the Broncs will host Iona for senior day on March 3 at 2pm.